Senator Aloysius Etok
Supporters of task force boss picket N’Assembly
Dele Ogbodoin Abujaâ€¨
The absence of the Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reform (PTTPR), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, yesterday stalled Senate investigation into the N195 billion pension fund, which the Chairman Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Senator Aloysius Etok, had alleged could not be accounted for by the team.
The Senate had earlier issued a warrant of arrest compelling the chairman to appear before it to explain his role in the alleged missing amount, yet Maina did not honour the call.
After waiting in vain for more than an hour, the committee was therefore forced to adjourn sitting indefinitely.
Describing Maina’s attitude as a glaring display of disobedience to constituted authority, Senator Etok, who was visibly angry, said: “Respected members of the public service especially, representatives of all the services, the immigration service, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC), prisons, civil defence, police, customs, etc, I want to on behalf of this committee apologise to you that we are one hour late just because we are monitoring and awaiting Maina’s arrival.
“Without seeing most of the people that we wanted, we just felt that we should come here and see what we can do. Again, we apologise to all of you for coming.”
Senator Etok stressed that the reason for extending several invitations to Maina was to make sure that he was given a fair hearing in the course of the investigation on the alleged misappropriation.
He said: “Because of him, we have been seating and adjourning just to make sure that he is here, because he said that he has not been given a fair hearing on the pension arrears.
“Today, we have been here and we have kept these people waiting for one hour and incidentally the Inspector General of Police (IG) is not here.
“The Senate under theleadership of the senate president issued a warrant of arrest and directed the IGto present and compel Maina’s appearance before this committee by 12 o’clock today.
“But we have been waiting here for more than one hour and we have not seen him.”
He added that after due consultation with members of the committee, they had to suspend the investigation indefinitely.
The Co-chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya, also expressed frustration.
Gaya said: “I have information from the police that Maina is at the gate addressing his supporters instead of coming here.
“We wanted him to be here, so the committee will decide what to do.
“One thing is that we have been honest and sincere. We want to put it on record. God knows we have tried. We leave him to God.”
But while members of the Senate committee were waiting for Maina, the PTTPR boss was said to have been busy addressing his supporters who had stormed the National Assembly gate in their numbers.
Apart from Maina’s supporters who carried various forms of placards, another group also protested the continued stay of Maina as the PTTPRboss.
It was very difficult for Senators and House of Representatives members to gain access into the National Assembly Complex due to the large number of protesters.
Some of the lawmakers made a decoy to follow the Aso Rock Villa gate to enter the National Assembly.
While some of the protesters shouted praises of Maina and asked the Senate to leave him alone, others demanded his immediate removal as chairman of PTTPR.
Some of the placards read: “Leave Maina alone”, “Maina is a good man”, “Maina has saved pensioners”, “Maina has done what nobody could before him”, “The Senate committee has been bought over by pension thieves.”