- No, FG asked him to come back, says family
- DSS keeps mum over alleged complicity
- Jonathan reacts
Omololu Ogunmade, Paul Obi in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Presidency Wednesday added a new twist to the controversy over the reinstatement of the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, alleging that influential officials of the defunct Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government might be behind his secret return to the country.
The presidency in a statement by Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity (SSA Media), said the PDP lacked the moral right to accuse the federal government of any misdemeanour over the return of the alleged pension thief, describing Maina as one of the monsters created by its government.
“Over and over again, the President Buhari government has pointed out that the administration’s greatest problem is the mess left behind by the previous government. Maina is just one more example,” Shehu said.
Shehu spoke just as the Department of State Security (DSS) kept mum over Maina’s family claim that it knew about the surreptitious return of the former pension reforms’ boss who fled the country in 2013 after he was accused of N200billion fraud at his former duty post.
Besides, the embattled Maina’s family insisted that he returned to the country on the invitation of the Buhari administration.
Shehu, however, said records from investigations, which led to the disgrace of the former pension boss and the eventual decision of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to declare him wanted showed the involvement of a top member of the former PDP government in the multi-billion naira pension’s scandal who was “warmly ensconced in the bosom of power.”
He added: “Top officials in the PDP government, from sectoral heads to those charged with the responsibility for law and order received some of these billions of naira from Maina.
“We have all the transaction records and these are matters that the EFCC has been pursuing to ensure that they all have their day in court.”
However, he said the president was determined to get to the bottom of the matter of the impunity that led to Maina’s reinstatement.
“Everything will be uncovered in due course. This just goes to show us the scale of corruption that this government is fighting. And, as we can all see, corruption keeps fighting back viciously,” he stated.
But at a press conference in Kaduna wednesday, the family of Maina rose in his defence, saying he was a victim of power play and blackmail by those he had exposed as pension thieves.
Saying Maina was not a fraudster, the family’s spokesman, Mr. Aliyu Maina, accused a “cabal” of blackmailing their son and using the EFCC to seal off their property.
“The entire family of Abdullahi Maina is hereby categorically stating that our son is not in any way a fraudster, rather he is a messiah who brought remarkable reforms into the Nigerian Pension Scheme, whose efforts saw the disappearance of pensioners roaming the streets of FCT Abuja and other state capitals,” he said.
Aliyu stated that it was the Buhari administration that asked Maina to return, adding that the DSS had provided him cover.
He said: “Abdulrasheed (Maina) was in fact invited by this administration and he was promised security to come and clean up the mess and generate more revenue to the government by blocking leakages.
“He succumbed to the present administration and came back to Nigeria. He has been working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security.”
Contacted wednesday by THISDAY to respond to the fresh claim that it knew about the return of Maina to the country, the DSS, which had in a statement during the week denied knowledge of the return of the former pension reforms boss, refused to respond.
The DSS had failed to appoint a spokesperson since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, making official confirmation of information relating to the organisation difficult.
All efforts by stakeholders in the nation’s security and intelligence community to persuade the DSS to appoint a media officer who would interface with the media had been rebuffed by the internal secret security agency.
But defending their own wednesday the Maina lineage insisted that rather than vilify him, he should be praised for his reforms that saved the country billions of naira.
Aliyu said: “It is on record that Abdulrasheed Maina’s reform put to a stop the fraudulent withdrawal of huge sums from both the Nigerian Pension Board, the Nigerian Police Pension Board.”
“Perhaps it is his noble efforts that made him enviable to the present administration when they came into power to convince him to come back and assist in its ‘CHANGE’ agenda.”
He added: “Maina is in possession of facts that are against the cabal and interesting to the Nigerian populace, which he will disclose soonest. One must ask whether it is an offence for somebody to serve his fatherland faithfully?”
Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan wednesday reacted to attempts to link him to the return of Maina, saying the fact that efforts were being made to link him to the return and reinstatement of the former pension boss underscored how “uncoordinated and rudderless” the Buhari administration had become.
PREMIUM TIMES quoted his media aide, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, as saying: “Are they saying it is President Jonathan that flew him back into Nigeria and promoted him in two levels ahead of where he was as at 2013 when he fled the from civil service?
“They should stop insulting Nigerians or seeing them as fools.”