President Muhammadu Buhari is a no-nonsense anti-corruption czar. At least, so we have been told. Prior to the conduct of the 2015 presidential election, he was touted as the best thing to have come out from Nigeria. Promises were made and Nigerians who wanted a breath of fresh air, bought into what I term as one of the biggest scams in our modern political history.
We were told that price of a litre of fuel will be reduced to N40. We were told that $1 will be made equal with N1. The elderly and jobless youths were promised N5,000 monthly stipends. Today, we have more jobless youths who have been rendered impotent by the actions and inactions of this government.
That is not all. During the sensational campaign, President Buhari made a bold promise that more prisons will be built to accommodate politicians he will send to jail. Today, the government is yet to prosecute and jail one politically-exposed person. Instead, it is from one scandal to another. I am certain that the former President Goodluck Jonathan will be sipping his local gin, with a broad smile. He was labeled a thief and a clueless drunk. Looking back, maybe Nigerians are not so sure if that toga was true after all.
We have had so many gates since this government came to power. Barugate, Lawalgate and now Mainagate. Who knows. More gates may follow in the coming months.
The Senate adhoc committee set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the return of Abdulrasheed Maina to the country and how he was readmitted into the civil service as a director, is making a further mockery of the anti-corruption war of this government.
When an online newspaper first reported that Maina had been reabsorbed into the Federal Civil Service, doubting Thomases like us thought it was a joke taken too far. As more revelations were made, it became glaring that the administration of Saint Buhari had taken Nigerians on a phoney ride.
I will not waste my time and dwell on how Maina was reinstated and who authorised it. I will focus on the unimaginable revelations coming from the Red Chamber, the Senate.
The protagonist in the unfolding drama, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami told the Senator Emmanuel Paulker-led committee investigating the scandal a fortnight ago, that he met with Maina in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), last year.
While this played out, at least, we were told that Baba Buhari, the no-nonsense anti-corruption lion-king, was aware. That is not all. There are more shocking revelations from the ongoing probe in the Senate. Let me brief you. In a deposition submitted to the committee, Malami, wrote that embattled Maina has not accounted for about 270 properties he recovered from alleged pension fraudsters when he held sway as chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms.
The 13-page document is dated November 14. It was submitted to the committee chairman, Paulker, in person by the AGF.
Malami said the alleged relooted properties include real estate and motor vehicles. He claimed that one of the said properties is worth N1 billion and situated at No 42, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja.
The said property, located in Maitama, was purchased by a self-acclaimed Lagos-based Senior Advocate of Nigeria at a giveaway price of N600 million.
The property was recovered from Dr. Shuaibu Teidi. Teidi was a former Director of Pensions Account, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, before he was removed and prosecuted in 2013 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In the deposition, Malami raised some posers: “What happened to the monies recovered from the syndicate? What about the 270 properties comprising real estate and motor vehicles, one of which is a mansion worth N1 billion situated at No 42, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja, allegedly given to a senior lawyer meant to crave for his “buy in” in maximising media hype aimed at distracting the attention of the public from the pension fraud?
“There is perceived compromises in the investigation, prosecution and charges of real syndicate over the pension related matters.
“Let me conclude by commending the committee led by its chairman, Distinguished Senator Emmanuel Paulker, for the opportunity to speak to Nigerians directly by rising above the conspiracy of the pension predators that set in aggressive press negative campaign against me and in allowing me an opportunity to address Nigerians, thereby upholding the national interest as against the interest of the chain of pension predators.”
In another document, it was claimed that the 270 properties recovered by Maina’s team, are domiciled with the EFCC.
“These properties are under the custody of the EFCC. The properties as we speak, have been shared among top officials of the commission, friends and family members, including lawyers of the agency,” part of the document read.
In another development, Malami told the committee, which is meeting behind closed doors that his signature on the said document which reinstated Maina was forged.
He told the committee that desperate people who are out to smear his image are behind the forgery. He however failed to reveal the identities of those he claims to be behind the forgery. The Senate, obviously cashing in on this to take their pound of flesh, has extended the sitting period of the committee. The Senate has also expanded the scope of work of the committee. The committee is now expected to champion the recovery of the alleged relooted assets.
In the coming weeks and months, more shocking revelations will emanate from the National Assembly, especially the Senate. More people will be named in the unfolding Maina scandal. If pushed to the wall, maybe Maina may even call out names of those who reportedly benefited from the spoils of war.
For many Nigerians, these revelations may be shocking. Not so for me. There are too many scandals rocking this government and we tend to forget so easily similar scenarios that played out in the past and this government of saints has not lifted a finger. You remember one Ibrahim Lamorde? Well, he is a former chairman of EFCC. He is a police commissioner and currently heads an anti-corruption unit of the Force. In August, 2015, barely two months after the Eight Senate was inaugurated, a certain George Uboh petitioned the upper legislative chamber.
In the said petition, Uboh claimed that the EFCC, under Lamorde, recovered over N3 trillion loot between 2004 and 2011. He insisted that the agency must be compelled to return N2.051 trillion to the Federal Government.
He claimed then that the agency defrauded the country to the tune of N2.051 trillion from seized properties and funds of individuals under its investigation. Obuh also alleged that Lamorde, gave some of the choice properties seized from former Bayelsa State Governor, DSP Alamieyesigha, and others, to his friends and family members.
Part of the petition reads: “In a December 2, 2011, letter EFCC sent to the Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, EFCC stated that the aggregate recoveries from 2004 to 2011 (8 financial years) was N1,326,754,554,482:80. EFCC did not mention where the N1.3 trillion recovered was remitted to.”
Maintaining that EFCC’s claim that it did not recover up to a trillion naira is completely false, Obuh gave the breakdown as follows: 2004—N7,070,693,130:00; 2005—N965,651,737,039:00; 2006—N6,622,261,783:79; 2007—N7,700,150,381:20; 2008—N18,141,628,546:98; 2009—N130,885,187,726:83; 2010—N52,877,464,867:00; 2011—N137,805,431,008:08.
According to him, “In EFCC’s “Summary Of EFCC Monetary Recoveries 2003-March, 2013” (11 financial years), EFCC stated that the aggregate recoveries for 11 financial years is N497,385,427,485:63; EFCC did not mention where the N497.3 Billion recovered was remitted to, going by the following breakdown-
While the probe conducted by Samuel Anyanwu-led Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions committee lasted, Lamorde did not turn up. It is more than two years now. Lamorde has left EFCC and is enjoying his new posting as a police Commissioner.
No questions have been asked by President Buhari. At least, I am not aware of any. No one has been arrested. Nigerians are not aware if the alleged relooted assets have been recovered.
This is why I am not so excited, despite the shocking revelations coming from the ongoing Senate probe. In the end, the report when submitted to President Buhari, will be kept in view, just like the report of the 2014 National Conference.
In the end, Maina will be given a soft landing. The issue will be settled like a family affair. May be Maina could even emerge as the next governor of Borno State. This is Nigeria and nothing is impossible.
The current outcry will lose its steam. No one will be sacked or prosecuted. Life will go on as if nothing happened. That is how we are wired as Nigerians. We live for the moment. If the former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, former Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke and others named in multi-billion naira scandals have not been prosecuted and jailed by Saint Ibrahim Magu, chairman of EFCC, Maina too will not be prosecuted.
They are acting a script and when the movie is over, we will move on with our lives. I do not trust this government and I have no apologies.
I so submit!
…one more thing
Last week, the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly forwarded copies of amendments of the 1999 Constitution to State Houses of Assembly for concurrence.
The transmission of copies of the amendments took some time because of “cleaning up copies to ensure that what you have from the Senate is also what you have from the House of Representatives.”
State Assemblies are expected to turn in their contributions to the National Assembly in the first quarter of 2018 for further legislative work before transmitting same to Muhammadu Buhari for presidential assent.
It is expected that the state assemblies will not find it difficult to come up with their resolutions of the proposed amendments because they were carried along during the amendment process.
This is the part that gets me worried. Nigerians are so glued to the National Assembly that they seldom remember that there are 36 state assemblies. These assemblies will soon perform a serious national assignment and Nigerians are not even aware.
If the ongoing constitution amendment exercise must work, 24 out of 36 assemblies must concur. We cannot sit back and allow things to go wrong. Let us mount pressure on our state assembly members to do the right thing. If we miss this opportunity, we will have to wait for another four years to make things right. Act now!