â€¢ After directorâ€™s second dismissal, Buhari receives report on his recall
â€¢ Oyo-Ita insists she had no hand in reinstatement
â€¢ PDP, others demand AGF, ministerâ€™s sack as EFCC storms residence
Following Mondayâ€™s directive by President Muhammadu Buhari ordering the immediate dismissal of former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, from the federal civil service, fresh facts have come to light showing the involvement of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and his counterpart in the Ministry of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, in the embattled directorâ€™s promotion and reinstatement in the civil service.
Maina, who had been at large since 2013 when he was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over his suspected involvement in a N2 billion pension scam, suddenly resurfaced recently with his redeployment to the Ministry of Interior as Director, Human Resources Department.
Prior to his redeployment, Maina was an assistant director and had been sacked by the past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan over his involvement in the pension scam.
Despite efforts by the National Assembly to get him to appear before the probe panel investigating the scandal, Maina absconded from the country to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to evade arrest and prosecution, forcing the EFCC to place him on the Interpol list of wanted people.
However, Buhari, following the uproar over his recent promotion and redeployment to the interior ministry, Monday ordered his immediate dismissal from the civil service.
According to a statement by his chief spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari also directed the Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, asking her to provide a full report on the circumstances surrounding Maina’s recall and consequent redeployment to the Ministry of Interior.
The statement said Oyo-Itaâ€™s response was to be submitted to the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President before the end of work Monday.
Malami, Dambazauâ€™s Role in Reinstatement
However, a letter from the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) sighted by THISDAY has shown that contrary to the impression created by the interior ministry that it knew nothing about Mainaâ€™s reabsorption and redeployment to the ministry, blaming it on Oyo-Itaâ€™s office, it was indeed Malami and Dambazau who worked hand-in-hand to get Maina reinstated and promoted.
The FCSC letter approving his promotion and reinstatement as a deputy director on Salary Grade Level (SGL) 16 and granting approval to Maina to sit for the next promotion exam to the post of director on SGL 17, also detailed the correspondence between the AGF, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) and the Senior Staff Committee of the Ministry of Interior that led to Mainaâ€™s reinstatement in the civil service.
Also speaking on the development, a highly placed source in the OHCSF said Monday that the office was unaware of the reinstatement of Maina in the service.
â€œThe Head of Service did not convey this directive, rather she sought audience with Mr. President and gave him a full brief on this matter with supporting documentation.
â€œShe is at a loss to know why the haste for Mainaâ€™s recall/resumption when no such approval has been conveyed to him by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. There is a lot of foul play going on.
â€œA lot of very prominent people were interested in his recall and playing all sorts of games to push the wrongdoing onto my bossâ€™s head. They have failed,â€ the source stated.
Supporting this claim, the FCSC letter with Ref No. 4029.82/Vol.III/179 to the Head of Civil Service, dated September 18, 2017 and signed on behalf of the chairman of the commission by Mustapha L. Sulaiman, showed that Malami and Dambazau actually pulled the strings for his recall into the civil service.
The letter said: â€œKindly refer to the Attorney-General of the Federation/Honourable Minister of Justiceâ€™s letter Ref No. HAGF/FSCC/2017/VOL.1/3 dated 27th April 2017, requesting Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) to give consequential effect to the judgment that voided the warrant of arrest issued against A.A. Maina, which formed the basis for the query and his eventual dismissal.
â€œFurther to the aforementioned letter, the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) at its meeting held on 14th June 2017, deliberated on the Attorney-General of the Federationâ€™s letter and requested the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), vide letter FC.4029/82/VOL.III/160 of 21st June 2017 to advise the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior to consider the AGFâ€™s letter, the officerâ€™s case and make appropriate recommendation to the Commission.
â€œThe OHCSF accordingly advised Ministry of Interior to consider the matter. The Ministry of Interior at its Senior Staff Committeeâ€™s (SSC) meeting held on 22nd June 2017 considered the disciplinary case against the officer and the letter by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice seeking the reinstatement of the officer as a director (Administration), SGL. 17 in the Federal Civil Service.
â€œThe Ministry of Interiorâ€™s Senior Staff Committee deliberated on the case and recommended that Mr. Maina be reinstated into the service as Deputy Director SGL. 16.
â€œThe Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) vide letter Ref. No. HCSF/LU/COR/FCSC/749/III/135, dated 14th August 2017, forwarded the recommendations of the Senior Staff Committee (SSC) of the Ministry of Interior to the FCSC for further necessary action.
â€œThe FCSC at its meeting held on Wednesday, 16th August, 2017, considered the letter from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the recommendations of the Senior State Committee of the Ministry of Interior on the disciplinary case against Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, Deputy Director (Administration), Salary Grade Level 16.
â€œThe FCSC, thereafter, approved the reinstatement of the officer into the service with effect from 21st February 2013 (being the date he was earlier dismissed from service).
â€œThe FCSC also approved for the officer to sit for the next promotion examination to the post of Director (Administration), SGL 17.
â€œI am therefore to convey the approval of the FCSC for the reinstatement into the Service of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, Deputy Director (Administration), SGL 16.â€
Oyo-Ita Denies Involvement
Reinforcing the position that she had no role in his reinstatement and promotion, Oyo-Ita, in a statement Monday night, refuted media reports that she approved the reinstatement of Maina into the civil service and his subsequent posting to the Ministry of Interior.
The statement signed on her behalf by Mr. Mohammed Manga, Assistant Director (Media Relations) in the Office of the Head of Service, said: â€œThe 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 reinstatement into the Federal Civil Service of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina and his subsequent posting to the Ministry of Interior.
â€œThe Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) wishes to inform the public that the reinstatement and posting of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina never emanated from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.
â€œConsequently, the purported reinstatement and posting by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is totally erroneous and misleading.â€
Even as she issued the statement distancing herself from Mainaâ€™s recall, a senior presidential official told THISDAY late Monday night that Oyo-Ita had submitted her response to the presidentâ€™s query in accordance with his directive that it must be submitted to the Office of the Chief of Staff office before the close of work Monday.
According to him, her response was already being studied while other reports were also being awaited.
â€œI have confirmation that the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Oyo-Ita has brought the report on the re-engagement of Abdulrasheed Maina as directed by the president. This is being studied as other reports are being awaited,â€ he stated.
Also denying its involvement in Mainaâ€™s reinstatement, the Department of State Services (DSS) said Monday that it had no hand in his recall or reinstatement.
â€œThere 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 nor 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,â€ the DSS Media Unit stated.
â€œThe Service is aware that Mr. Maina is a civil servant and any disciplinary action as regards Mainaâ€™s official conduct will therefore be handled as required by the civil service rules.
â€œSo it will therefore be absurd for anybody to imply or insinuate that the DSS had a hand in the recall or reinstatement of Maina.
â€œMr. 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,â€ the DSS stated.
EFCC Storms Mainaâ€™s Residence
But just as the storm over Mainaâ€™s recall gathered dust, operatives of EFCC Monday invaded his luxury Abuja home, located at No. 10 Hamisu Muse Road, Jabi District, Abuja.
Sources close to the EFCC informed THISDAY that the commission was taken aback by his reinstatement, given that it had placed Maina on the Interpol watch list, following his alleged involvement in the looting if about N2 billion pension funds.
Speaking to THISDAY on the visit by EFCC operatives to Maina’s residence, EFCC Head of Media and Publicity Wilson Uwugiaren said: â€œIt is true that our operatives visited his house.â€
Uwugiaren further stated that the commission was preparing to expand its investigation and launch a manhunt for Maina who was said to have sneaked into the country and has been shuttling between Abuja and Kaduna since his return from the UAE.
PDP Demands Dambazau, Malamiâ€™s Sack
However, in its reaction to Mainaâ€™s recall, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called on the president not to downplay the criminality associated with the reinstatement of the suspended former head of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms.
PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, said apart from the arrest and prosecution of Maina, Buhari should also sack Dambazau and Malami for their alleged complicity in the saga.
PDP said Maina was given an assignment by the last administration to superintend the now defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, but that he allegedly â€œdipped his hands into the jar and helped himself to billions of naira of what he was supposed to safeguardâ€.
The party said the president should understand that this is a moral and criminal issue and should be so treated.
â€œWe therefore demand the immediate arrest and prosecution of Maina for his atrocities, the arrest and prosecution of those who helped him return to the country and got restored to his duty post with promotion added.
â€œWe also demand the immediate sack of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdulrahman Dambazau and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who have been fingered in the illegal act of restoring Maina to office against good conscience,â€ it said.
PDP also alleged that Maina was reported to have been paid his salary arrears amounting to N22 million, which he collected upon approval and release by the AGF.
â€œWe dare the government of the day to deny this with verifiable evidence. We are shocked and sad as well that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with its viable network under the administration of the PDP has suddenly lost steam to the point that it was not aware of the entrance of a high class wanted criminal into the country until the media exposed it.
â€œIt is not too shocked at the steps taken by the administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in reinstating a supposed criminal and fugitive, Abdulrasheed Maina to office instead of getting him arrested,â€ it said.
Also weighing in on the issue, popular musician and convener of the Mumu Don Do Group, Charles Oputa, also known as Charly Boy, Monday accused Buhari of harbouring corruption among his cronies, family members and close associates.
In a statement signed by Charly Boy and a coalition of civil society groups, the group said: â€œWe have read reports of the reinstatement and promotion of Alhaji Abdulrashid Maina, the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, who was dismissed from the Federal Civil Service for abandoning his duty post and evading arrest for his involvement in the looting of pension funds to the tune of N100 billion.
â€œWe have also read the statement released by the presidency ordering his disengagement from the civil service.
â€œIt is disturbing that a wanted fugitive who has evaded arrest for several years was reinstated and promoted into the civil service. It is also disturbing that this reinstatement follows a disturbing trend where people previously dismissed from the civil service for engaging in acts of corruption are reinstated by the federal fovernment.
â€œIt is obvious that the decision to disengage Alhaji Maina is as a result of the huge public outcry that trailed news of reinstatement.
â€œIt is also obvious that the Buhari administration has no interest in fighting corruption but condones it where cronies, close family and friends are involved.
â€œAssuming, but not conceding, that President Buhari was indeed unaware of Alhaji Mainaâ€™s reinstatement as claimed by his spokespeople, it is clear that he is not in charge of his government and as such is unaware of the level of illegality and corruption being perpetrated by officials of his administration.
â€œEither way, the inescapable conclusion is that President Buhari is unable or unwilling, to fight corruption in his administration.
â€œThe only way President Buhari can redeem his image is to order a speedy investigation into the matter and to sack all officials in his administration involved in Alhaji Maina’s reinstatement, including the Attorney General of the Federation on whose legal advice the reinstatement was done in the first place.
â€œAnything less will reveal the Buhari administration for what it truly is â€“ a hypocritical administration that is prepared to look away when corruption is perpetrated by cronies and close family members which will only act when public outcry is intense.â€
Joining in the chorus, Nigerians took to the social media to express their dismay at Mainaâ€™s reistatement.
The issue saw several Nigerians blaming Buhari while others blamed â€œthe cabalâ€ in the presidency for the recall.
Hours after the scandal was broken by a report by Premium Times, Nigerians had expressed dismay at Mainaâ€™s recall given the anti-corruption stance of this present administration.
Although the issue had almost died down, it was again brought to the fore Monday with the announcement from the presidency that Maina had again been sacked and a probe instituted.
Amongst those who bayed for blood was Charles Obi who on his Twitter handle said: â€œOn Maina, we are meant to believe that Buhari is sidelined in his own government that he doesnâ€™t even know what his appointees are up to.â€
Israel Ebije said: â€œGood thing @MBuhari has sacked Maina. That should not be the end, he should sack the useless cabals responsible for the scandal.â€
Obinna Ezzy said: â€œThe president didnâ€™t know about the NNPC issue, the president didnâ€™t know about Mainaâ€™s reinstatement, what exactly does he know about?â€
Social Media Entrepreneur Japheth Omojuwa said: â€œ@MBuhari has had many lows, but reabsorbing Maina into the civil service is the lowest! Big fat shame! This is obnoxious!
â€œIf Maina isnâ€™t arrested at the point of entry into Nigeria, I suggest at that point we stop all the corruption prosecutions. End the game!â€
Abubakar Atiku also said: â€œ@NGRPresident @MBuhari Thatâ€™s not enough Mr. President! Who facilitated his reinstatement and what will happen to them? Your chief of staff is part of your problems.â€
Udo Ilo said: â€œ@NGRPresident @MBuhari The fact that this happened at all is very disturbing and points to a grave dysfunctional governance system.â€
Gabriel Patterson said: â€œ@NGRPresident @MBuhari How he was re-engaged in the first place needs to be probed as this damage control mechanism cannot fool people.â€
There were also those who opined that just sacking the recalled Maina was not good enough, rather all those involved in his recall process should get the boot too.
They also tasked the presidency to not just call for a probe but to follow through unlike past reports that have been swept under the carpet.
Towing that line of thought was Ade Banique, who charged the presidency to not just sack Maina with immediate effect but to â€œfire and prosecute those who recalled Maina, act on the ex-SGF report, then I will know President Buhari is backâ€.