Senator Aloysiius Etok
A mild drama occurred Thursday , shortly after the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Senator Aloysiius Etok, insisted on postponing till next week, the public hearing on the alleged missing N195 billion pension fund, when the Chairman of the Task Force on Pension Reform, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, appeared before the committee to defended the allegation.
The incident, which surprised everybody, including committee members, however, got many thinking as Etok had already displayed the warrant of arrest on Maina, which was allegedly signed by the Senate President, David Mark.
But, what stunned many was the fact that Etok alleged that the warrant of arrest had become imperative given the fact that the committee had severally invited Maina to come and clear his name and that of his team on the allegation.
Before Maina’s arrival, Etok had informed the session, that Maina had deliberately refused to appear before the Committee.
He said: “Once again, we want to say that we have been faithful enough by giving Maina the opportunityof fair hearing.” We have severally reminded Maina to appear before this Committee today unfailingly. Again he is not here before the Committee and because this nation is bigger than any individual, because we all are serving the public and like I said the other day, we are entitled to render the account of our stewardship to the people whenever we are called to do so.”
The chairman explained that Maina had always complained that he was never given fair hearing, adding that the Committee has therefore decided to go the extra mile even at a very high cost of compelling the leadership of the upper chamber to issue warrant of arrest on him if he refuses to appear again.
He added: “Therefore today we shall make sure that we straightened areas of bottlenecks as we have on behalf of the people of Nigeria secured his warrant of arrest which the Senate President has signed. Therefore, we must now compel Maina to appear before this committee, unfailingly by next week.”
Senator Kabiru Gaya, a member of the committee, said: “We are very much worried that Maina refused to come here today. We are going beyond the normal tradition now. We the Committee members is now compelled to sign a warrant of arrest to make him come and that has been done.”
“Now, we will now show you the press the warrant of arrest that was signed by the Senate President David Mark, mandating Maina to come and if he refuses to come then we will see, because we are very much worried. Mr. Chairman this is the warrant of arrest signed by the President of Senate David Mark, inviting Maina to appear before the Committee next week,” Gaya said, while apologising to all the heads of commissions and parastatals that turned up for the hearing.
Speaking to journalists, after the adjournment at about 3 p.m., Maina said: “I just returned last night from a trip where I went to commensurate with a friend who lost his three children and I only returned last night from the trip and here I am at the National Assembly. I don’t know what is going on. How can I refuse to come when I am not even in town?”
He added that there was no order of arrest that was served on him.
On the allegation that N195 billion was misappropriated, he said: “This is not about me, you see they are talking about all the pension offices in Nigeria from 2005 to 2009 and the Task Force did not exist during these times. I don’t know where they are getting their figures from because I have no business with that. I was not there between 2005 and 2009.”
“I can tell you that my Committee and I were able to recover N221 billion to government coffers, we are also trying to mop up over N30 billion again and we have been able to arrest all several looters across the country. We have also been able to remove the names of over 73,000 ghost pensioners and fake account numbers, all these we have the records,” he said.
We have paid the pension arrears and gratutity pensioners all over the country those that have never been paid. In fact I have all these names be published so that Nigerians will see.”
“Let me tell you that President Goodluck Jonathan is passionate about the pension reform, and we must make sure that it works and that is why we have been able to succeed and right now EFCC has been able to confiscate over 2011 properties through the task team.
“All of us are going to retire one day and when that is done we should be able to get our pension, you know when you attempt to fight corruption, it fights you back. As far as I’m concerned I have the greatest respect for the Senate President, he is like a father to me and I tell you I also respect this Committee,” he said.