President orders probe of ex-pension boss’ return
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Heads may roll in the federal civil service, as angry President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday bore his fangs following the reinstatement of former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdullahi Abdulrasheed Maina. To show his fury, President Buhari ordered the immediate sack of Maina, querried the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, and ordered a probe of the reinstatment mess.
In a memo, according to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari demanded a full report of the circumstances of Maina’s recall and posting to the Ministry of Interior to be submitted to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, before the end of work yesterday.
The memo, according to investigation, has thrown the office of the HoS into panic mode. During a visit, workers were seen discussing the matter in hushed tone. Those who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed fear that the saga may lead to a purge. Buhari had ordered the immediate disengagement of Maina, 24 hours after the Minister of Interior, Lt Gen (retd) Abdulrahman Dambazau, admitted that he was posted few days ago to the Ministry of Interior by the office of HoS on an acting capacity to fill a vacancy created following the retirement of the director, heading the Human Resources Department in the Ministry. But in what seemed like a reply to the president’s memo, Oyo-Ita denied involvement in the reinstatement of Maina as well as his subsequent posting to the Ministry of Interior. In a three paragraph statement signed by the Assistant Director (Media Relations), Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mohammed Manga, Oyo-Ita described as misleading media report linking her office to the reinstatement.
The statement read: “The attention of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has been drawn to several media reports that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has approved the re-instatement into the Federal Civil Service of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina and his subsequent posting to the Ministry of Interior. “The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) wishes to inform the public that the re-instatement and posting of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina never emanated from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. “Consequently, the purported re-instatement and posting by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is totally erroneous and misleading.” Spokesperson for the Federal Civil Service Commission, Dr. Joel Oruche, when contacted, said he did not have information on Maina as all the commissioners and directors were at the Public Service Institute (PSI), Abuja. He pleaded to be given time to get the information across.
The Presidency, however, confirmed last night that Oyo-Ita had complied with President Buhari’s directive. Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the president, Garba Shehu, said: “I have confirmation that the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Oyo-Ita has brought the report on the reengagement of Abdulrasheed Maina as directed by the President. This is being studied as other reports are being awaited.” Meanwhile, the Department of State Services (DSS) has also distanced itself from Maina’s recall. The media unit of the agency in a terse statement said: “There was no correspondence of any sort between the DSS and the Head of Service with respect to Mr. Maina.
The DSS is not investigating him or handling any matter connected to Maina and neither has the DSS ever forwarded any correspondence to Mr President or any arm of government for the recall or reinstatement of Maina. “The Service is aware that Mr Maina is a civil servant and any disciplinary action as regards Maina’s official conduct will, therefore, be handled as required by the Civil Service rules. So, it will, therefore, be absurd for anybody to imply or insinuate that the DSS has a hand in the recall or reinstatement of Maina. “Mr. Maina had been in the country for quite sometime and it would be absurd for someone who should know to claim ignorance of his being around.” While there are denials and counter-denials, sources revealed that Maina returned to his job following a nod he got from some of those in the corridors of power. It was gathered that the former pension reforms panel’s boss reached out to people close to the Presidency and got assurances that he would return to his job. He eventually got words to return. Unknown to him, President Buhari was kept in the dark about the deal. The president, it was revealed, only got to know about it when Nigerians started questioning the rationale behind the reinstatement of Maina, who is being investigated by the Economic and Fincancial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Maina was in 2013 recommended for dismissal by the Federal Civil Service Commission following a recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.
In 2012, Maina was accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion. He was drafted by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2010 to sanitize a corrupt pension system. Based on the allegation of corruption, he was invited by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration. Shortly after the president’s directive for his disengagement, anti-riot police officers attached to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) stormed a mansion at No. 10 Hamisu Musa Road, Jabi, belonging to embattled Maina The stern looking police officers gave cover to an operative in mufti who marked the house in red. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded the immediate sack of Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdulrahman Danbazzau and Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami over their alleged role in the Maina reinstatement saga.