EDITORIAL: Buhari must punish all officials involved in Maina’s recall to prove his fight against corruption

EDITORIAL: Buhari must punish all officials involved in Maina’s recall to prove his fight against corruption

Nigerians woke up to the news that a ‘wanted’ Abdulrashid Maina had sneaked back to Nigeria and had been restored to the federal civil service with a big promotion.

Maina, was a former chairman of the Presidential Task Tea on Pension Reforms. Before his appointment as chairman of the pension task force, Maina was an assistant director in the ministry of internal affairs. He was dismissed from office in 2013 by the Federal Civil Service Commission acting on a recommendation from the Office of the Head of Service. He was accused of managing a massive pension fraud scheme involving the sum of N100billion.

Maina, was on July 21, 2015, charged by the EFCC alongside Stephen Oronsaye and two others before a Federal High Court in Abuja on a 24-count charge bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretense.

However, the controversial recall of Maina to the Nigerian civil service was reportedly masterminded by Attorney General Abubakar Malami, and the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau.  The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita has also been fingered into the saga.

Minister of Interior Lt General Abdurrahman Dambazau, to whose ministry Maina returned as director of human resources, said he had no hand in it. Head of the Civil Service of the Federation Mrs Oyo-Ita, whose office posted Maina, also said she had no hand in it. Attorney General of the Federation [AGF] and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN, whose office cleared Maina based on an overstretched interpretation of a 2013 court order and told other agencies to comply, said he acted in the best public interest and was waiting for presidential clearance to explain his role in the saga.

Although, President Buhari has ordered immediate disengagement of Maina, the government’s initial decision to promote Abdurasheed Maina a fugitive of the law to the position of a director in the federal civil service raises ethical questions and casts doubts on the commitment of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to fulfil one of its campaign promises.

Mr. Maina’s family in a statement in Kaduna affirmed that the Buhari government had invited the man back to the country to drive its “change” agenda.

Spokesman Aliyu Maina called him a “messiah,” drawing attention to the massive security given his brother by DSS as evidence the arrangement was official, and wondered why government officials were denying him, adding that Maina inherited the houses, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently seized in Kaduna. 

“He succumbed to the present administration and came back to Nigeria,” Aliyu declared, adding that Maina had been “working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security.”

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television, Magu, the chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC said “some people are offering protection to and so, the agency has been unable to arrest him.” It then appears that the forces behind Maina are fiercer and bigger than the commission.

Notwithstanding, AljazirahNigeria tasks the EFCC to not just bark, but bite, by immediately arresting and prosecuting Maina on the grounds of embezzlement of public funds. We orate that if the presidency is determined to recover whatever remains of its credibility, all the officials involved in bringing Maina back to office with promotion must be punished.

AljazirahNigeria sense this is a superb chance for the Buhari-led administration to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against corruption, and whoever is found blameworthy in this disgusting conspiracy on Maina should also be fired. We, however, commend President Buhari for sacking SGF, Babachir Lawal and NIA DG, Ayo Oke. It is a bold step in the right direction — while we expect him to replicate this achievement in Maina’s scandal.