Adeosun, AGF Insist Maina Not on FG’s Payroll

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Interior ministry’s perm sec accepts blame for reinstatement Magu refutes claims Maina handed over recoveries to EFCC DG DSS admits providing security for former pension boss

Francis Ndubuisi and James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, yesterday clarified that the embattled former Chairman, Pensions Reform Task Team (PRTT), Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, is not currently on the federal government payroll as earlier claimed by his lawyers.

Maina, who is currently in the eye of the storm was sacked and declared wanted by the previous administration for alleged corruption but reinstated and promoted by the present government recently.

According to Idris, Maina had been removed from government payroll since March 2013, adding that “I don’t know where Maina was receiving salary as claimed. Payment of salary is not made in the air, there should be a payslip. Let evidence be provided.”

Similarly, Adeosun submitted that there had been no trace of any payment made to the former pension chairman, adding that he couldn’t have been receiving salary as his biometric data had not been captured at any point in time.

Both spoke at the resumed investigative hearing by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on the disappearance and re-appearance, re-instatement and promotion of the former pension chairman.

But, Maina’s lawyer, Mr. Muhammed Sani Katu, in his submission, maintained that his client is still a civil servant by virtue of a court judgment which ordered that he be reinstated as he was not duly dismissed from service.

According to him, the Federal Civil Service Commission had queried Maina following the bench warrant issued against him by the Senate in 2013; but at the same time, Maina was said to have gone to court to challenge his arrest and had the court quash the arrest warrant.

While in court, he further challenged his dismissal by his employer, and the Attorney General of the Federation was joined in the suit.

However, despite the fact that the matter was still in court, coupled with the fact that the court had quashed the warrant for his arrest, which was the basis for his dismissal, the federal government went ahead and dismissed him from service.

According to Katu, Maina, also at the industrial arbitration court, entered into plea bargain with the federal government, represented by the then Head of Civil Service of the Federal. Part of the terms of the agreement was that he will drop a N2.1 billion judgment cost against the federal government while the latter will reinstate him into the service.

Essentially, these were the basis for Maina’s recourse to the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, for his reinstatement as a result of the judgments in his favour and that actually kick-started a process which had now gone awry.

Nevertheless, the acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, who also appeared before the ad-hoc committee to make presentation regarding the agency’s role in the issue said there had been no record of collaboration between his agency and Maina throughout the developments.

He said contrary to claims, Maina never handed-over a single asset which he purportedly recovered to the commission, and challenged anyone with contrary evidence to step out and show it or even name the EFCC officials involved in the handover.

Magusaid all proceeds of fraud ever recovered by the commission are products of independent investigation.

He said Maina remained a wanted person from its records and was even placed on the Interpol red notice.

Magu also denied a submission by the Director General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede that the Commission had at one time written to the service to demand that Maina be removed from its stop list. But the acting EFCC boss said he had never seen that letter all his life.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Interior, Mr. Abubakar Magaji, has taken responsibility for the obvious administrative oversights in the conveyance of the controversial letter of reinstatement and apologised for the shortcomings.

The ministry reportedly acted on the correspondence without the consent of the Head of Service (HoS), a clear breach of civil service procedure.

However, Magaji said while the body which reinstated Maina was constitutionally constituted, was never assigned duties or documented, stressing that the HoS, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, was wrong to have said Maina was documented. The HoS maintained her earlier position on the issue, noting that the reinstatment was never activated, and that the letter was not even delivered to Maina.

She said Maina “stands dismissed”, and directed that the purported, letter be returned to the civil service commission.

Oyo-Ita added: “I the Head of Service, will never have released the letter to him.”

According to her, the letter of reinstatement was not from HoS but Attorney General through Federal Civil Service Commission, adding that the Ministry of Interiors didn’t wait to get a posting letter from HoS before reinstatement.

She emphasised that she didn’t endorse the reinstatement letter while the ministry of Interior only acted on an advanced copy.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami, said he refused to assent to the final copy of the controversial letter of reinstatement because he had his reservations and only asked that it be ‘kept in view’ (KIV) pending further investigation.

According to him, upon advice by his Line staff, one Kehinde Ogoni, that the reinstatement be considered based on evidence of court injunctions, he (Malami) insisted on sighting the relevant court document so he could be well informed to take further action of the request. He said his reservations didn’t allow him sign off on the final copy.

He maintained that the purported reinstatement request was still work in progress as at October 5. He further took exception to insinuations that the controversial letter emanated from his office when ongoing investigation to that regard is yet to be concluded.

The committee chairman, however, asked that Kehinde be made to appear before it subsequently.

Further speaking at the hearing, Director General, Directorate of State Security (DSS), Mr. Lawal Daura, said the agency had nothing to do with the reinstatement issue.

He said though DSS had representation in the Maina pension task team, the dissolution of the body by the Senate ended the DSS connection to its embattled former chairman.

He, however admitted that his agency provided security to protect the former pension boss