Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina
By Dele Ogbodo
As the Senate intensifies effort to get the Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, booted out of office, the embattled chairman Sunday stated that the Task Team does not take custody of funds recovered from pension thieves and therefore not any position to misappropriate pension funds. Such recoveries, according to him, are usually executed by the anti-graft agencies where applicable.
A statement signed on his behalf by the Head of Media and Publicity of PRTT, Mr. Hassan Salihu, said PRTT only deals with paper works to compute pensioners’ entitlements, after which it then send it to the Head of Service for approval and that the recoveries are executed by anti-graft agencies where applicable.
Maina stated that it has become imperative for Nigerians to equally know that since the inauguration of the Pension Task Force Team in June 2010 to date, the National Assembly has never appropriated any money for the team in its Appropriation Acts of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
“Where and how the Pension Team could have misappropriated funds when nothing has been appropriated to it by the National Assembly?” he asked.
According to him, the task team is not a statutory body, adding that it is the Head of Service that has the exclusive rights for expenditure control of his office.
“All financial or material engagements of the Task Team are subject of approvals from the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. “There is no period when the chairman of the Pension Task Team who is an ordinary ‘Assistant Director’ became the Head of Civil Service of the Federation,” he said.
Maina added that the recent allegations against the PRTT on misappropriation of pension funds were baseless and untrue.
He said: “These spurious allegations are the product of Etuk-Gaya Senate Pension Probe Committee who bitterly hates the Pension Task Team with an intense emotion. There are no established facts to support all these allegations.
“Thus, the distinguished Senate Pension Probe Committee has grossly misinformed and misled the entire Senate with a fictitious report muddled up with a multitude of naked untrue and misleading unjustifiable conclusions against the Pension Reform Task Team.”
He explained that it has no power of approval of one naira over the pension offices that it has so far structured, adding that the PRTT has not yet been provided operational budget neither has it any bank account to date.
According to him, the functions of the Pension Team are mainly to restructure and cleanse the system through biometrics capturing, processing of payments of genuine pensioners and blocking loopholes that are prone to corrupt practices.
“The team has delivered these responsibilities to the best interest of this country.”
He said: “We believe that the Senate President as a man of honour and a dynamic leader, the Pension Task Team still loudly cries for justice on the unfairness meted out by the Etuk Pension Probe Committee.”