By Ejiofor Alike
A human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sanction all the officials who conspired to expose his administration and the country to avoidable shame by bringing back Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina to the public service.
Falana said in a statement yesterday that the sanctions, which the federal government would mete out to all such officials would make or mar the fight against corruption and impunity which is the cornerstone of the domestic and foreign policy thrust of the administration.
The rights activist noted that although the federal government has promised not to sweep the Mainagate under the carpet, he argued that the handling of the monumental scandal has so far eroded the credibility of the anti corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.
Falana recalled that Maina’s family had accused the Buhari administration of official hypocrisy and betrayal.
According to him, the spokesman for the family, Mr. Aliyu Maina, had pointed out that “Abdulrasheed 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.”
The family spokesman was also quoted as saying that “he (Maina) has been working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security. So, one wonders why all the agencies and various individuals responsible for his return are now denying.”
Falana argued that in view of the revelation of the family, which has not been denied, it is crystal clear that the highly placed officials of the federal government who brought Maina back to the country, gave him a clean bill of health.
Falana added that the said officials also provided Maina with “necessary security”, reinstated him, promoted him and paid his arrears of salaries and allowances totalling N22 million deliberately set out to subvert the anti corruption policy of the Buhari administration.
“It is the height of insensitivity to pay arrears of salaries to a fugitive at a time when hundreds of thousands of workers and pensioners are owed arrears of their legitimate emoluments. Through such demonstration of official impunity the officials involved have exposed the country to ridicule before the comity of nations. Having found Maina and exonerated him why was Interpol not informed that he was no longer wanted to stand trial for his role in the unprecedented pension fraud? Since Maina’s “necessary security” provided by the State Security Service has not been withdrawn why is the federal government requesting the Interpol to declare him wanted again? Will Interpol believe that a man who was provided with “necessary security” cannot be found by the federal government? Why is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) asking Nigerians to assist in searching for the fugitive?” Falana queried.
He added that the sanctions which the federal government will mete out to all the officials who conspired to expose the administration and the nation to such avoidable shame will make or mar the fight against corruption and impunity which is the cornerstone of the domestic and foreign policy thrust of the administration, adding that time is certainly not on the side of Buhari.