The handling of the abscondment, suspension, reinstatement, promotion and eventual dismissal of the erstwhile chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, has exposed how some of our public servants act contrary to the public interest. The man in the eye of the storm had been suspended since 2013 and consequently declared wanted at the local and international levels.
It is shocking that despite the official steps taken on the matter, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Alhaji Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), held a meeting in the United Arabs Emirate with the fugitive whose case was well known to him. Asked to explain why he took the odd step, the AGF could only say he did so after consulting the Director- General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Mallam Lawal Daura.
We find the excuse too lame to be acceptable. What role has the DSS to play in the matter? Why should the Chief Law Officer of the country be seen in the company of a man accused of mismanaging billions of Naira recovered from looters of the treasury? This is another proof that Mr. Malami is unsuitable for the office he holds.
Yet, it is another challenge to the Buhari administration. President Muhammadu Buhari must act to reignite the confidence of Nigerians in his ability to steer the ship of the nation. A number of questions have been raised in the National Assembly’s enquiry process. Many public officers have been invited to answer questions or shed light on the circumstances that gave rise to the conundrum.
Although the permanent secretary of the Interior ministry finally took responsibility for Maina’s reinstatement, he should be made to say more on the motives and the collaboration he apparently received from other officials. His minister, Lt. Gen. Abdulrasheed Dambazzau, who has pleaded ignorance of the malfeasance, should not be allowed to merely wash his hands off like Pontius Pilate. For someone who retired as a General in the army and holds a doctorate degree in Law, the minister, as Chief Executive of the ministry, could convince no one that he had no knowledge of activities of officials under his watch. Otherwise, he would be pleading incompetence.
Did Mr. Maina’s lawyer lie when he claimed his client had been receiving his salary since the infamous recall? Or, were the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, lying when they said he had been removed from the payroll since 2013? Could it be that some people criminally devised other means of funneling state funds to the said Mr. Maina? No stones should be left unturned in getting to the root of the matter.
The Head of Service and Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, too, should be further grilled on what they did or failed to do in getting standards upheld. It has been established that the AGF wrote thrice querying or directing the officers on the matter, but, as professionals saddled with applying standards in such matters, it was not enough that they received directives from the AGF. Even if Mr. Maina had been unfairly suspended and the arrest warrant by the Senate that necessitated the commencement of disciplinary procedure against him had been voided by a court of law, there is still an established procedure to recall an errant officer that was set aside in the instant case.
But, in all this, the officer who could not claim to have acted above board is the AGF. He acted ultra vires in Mr. Maina’s reinstatement. He should have restricted himself to what the judge said – the Senate did not follow established procedure in summoning Mr. Maina. That had nothing to do with other issues that necessitated the suspension. In any case, who ordered the reported promotion and payment of arrears of his salaries? These questions have not been answered whether before the Senate or the House of Representatives.
We agree with the senators who have called for a deeper look into the 670 property that Mr Maina claims he recovered and passed on to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). While the commission has denied, the searchlight should be beamed into it with a view to determining the veracity or otherwise of the allegation. We call on the President to act expeditiously on the matter and convince the public that he remains committed to his anti- corruption war.