Former President Goodluck Jonathan, has dissociated himself from allegations of being paid N5 billion monthly from the Pension Fund.
In a statement issued yesterday by his media adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, Jonathan said the claim credited to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was false.
In debunking the claim, Eze dismissed it as â€œa blatant lie hurriedly cooked up to divert the attention of the general public from the raging â€˜Mainagateâ€™ and other embarrassing scandals.â€
Eze said: â€œwe believe that the story was concocted as part of the unfolding grand design to always dodge responsibility and blame every evil act taking place in the present dispensation on the past Jonathan administration.â€
According to him, â€œOur attention has been drawn to a story published in Sun newspapers of November 18, 2017 in which the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was alleged to have told a Senate ad hoc committee that an â€œEx-President was taking N5 billion monthly from the Pension Fund.â€ He was also alleged to have sourced the information from the fugitive former chairman of Pension Reform Task Force Team, Abdul Rasheed Maina who, Malami admitted to have met in the United Arab Emirate (UAE).
â€œOur initial reaction was to ignore the story because it was speculative, conjectural, full of mischief and rumour-driven, since the National Assembly â€˜sourcesâ€™ were not disclosed and the ex-President in question was not identified by name.
â€œHowever, since the Pension Reform Task Force Team served under former President Jonathan, we believe that the story was concocted as part of the unfolding grand design to always dodge responsibility and blame every evil act taking place in the present dispensation on the past Jonathan administration.
â€œIn the first place, we do not believe that AGF Malami made such a claim because he is in a position to know that it is simply not true. We expect that even the Senators, if they were ever told that, would have dismissed it as a blatant lie hurriedly cooked up to divert the attention of the general public from the raging â€˜Mainagateâ€™ and other embarrassing scandals. Let us not forget that the 7th Senate had uncovered large scale fraud and indicted Maina upon which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) declared him wanted for pension fraud in 2015.
â€œWe also strongly believe that Maina, who is alleged to be the source of the false information, couldnâ€™t have said that. Even for a drowning man, understandably clawing on every straw for survival, that would have been a very wild shot, if it actually came from him.
â€œWe will simply challenge the Senate Committee to demand from those who fabricated the spurious claims that N5 billion was collected monthly from the Pension Fund by â€˜an Ex-Presidentâ€™ to give more details and produce evidence of how these transactions were made. They should be able to establish whether the monthly payment of N5 billion to â€˜an ex-Presidentâ€™ was made by cash or through bank transfers, in which case they should name the banks involved.
â€œWe advise that this matter should not be allowed to go the way of similar ones that have been swept under the carpet. We have no doubt that this is just another futile effort to cover up the ineptitude and corrupt tendencies of members of the present administration, who are now caught up in the Maina mess. Nigerians have not forgotten that the same forces initially claimed that it was Jonathanâ€™s men that quietly brought back Maina from exile and reinstated him in office under the Buhari administrationâ€, Eze noted.
According to the statement, â€œAgain, we restate our position that we very much doubt if AGF Malami really said what was reported in the Saturday Sun, because if he did, he would be placing his integrity and that of his office in a difficult position.
â€œWe believe that more of these ridiculous and manifestly unintelligent allegations will be raised against the Jonathan Administration by agents of the corrupt elements in the present government. Good a thing, Nigerians are no fools. The era of propaganda and lies are over. The scales have fallen from the eyes of innocent Nigerians, and they no longer believe those reprehensible lies,â€ Eze added.