BREAKING| Security agencies remove Maina from watch list amidst N2.1bn pension fraud
There are strong indications that the Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, who was embroiled in an alleged fraud case, might have been granted reprieve by the Federal Government.
Maina, it was learnt, had been visiting the country more regularly than before from his foreign base as his name was said to have been taken off the watch list by security agencies at the nation’s international airports.
One year after a Senate ad hoc committee, set up to investigate his controversial reinstatement and promotion in the federal civil service, submitted its report, the Senate has yet to consider its findings.
Security sources stated that the former PRTT chairman was being protected from arrest by top officials in the Presidency and the Ministry of Justice.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that Maina, who was earlier declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2015 and subsequently placed on the International Police wanted list, was always in the country hobnobbing with senior officials.
One of the sources told our correspondent that the Federal Government was no longer interested in taking Maina into custody, describing him as ‘a friend of this administration’.
“The EFCC is free to chase after him, but the government seems to have taken a decision on the matter because Maina is no longer on our watch list. From the body language of top officials, Maina appears to be a friend of this administration,” he stated.
Following request by the EFCC, the Interpol had issued a red alert for Maina’s arrest, but the embattled civil servant subsequently met with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), in Dubai in 2016 during which he was reportedly assured of his safety in Nigeria.
The minister, in November 2017, admitted before a Senate ad hoc panel probing Maina’s reinstatement to the civil service that he met with the former PRTT boss in Dubai.
Sequel to this, Maina resumed at the Ministry of Interior where he was promoted to the position of Deputy Director, Human Resources Department, without sitting for the mandatory promotion examination.
Findings also indicated that Maina had stopped going to work at the interior ministry.
It could not be immediately confirmed if President Muhammadu Buhari’s order that he should be sacked had been carried out by the Federal Civil Service Commission.
When asked if Maina still worked at the interior ministry, the ministry’s spokesman, Mohammed Manga, responded angrily, “Stop calling me about Maina. Am I his employer? Why are you personalising this issue? You are personalising it. What is your business now?”
Maina had, in February, secured a court order stopping the EFCC from declaring him wanted.
Justice Giwa Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court described the action of the anti-graft agency in declaring Maina wanted as unlawful.
The commission has, however, filed an appeal against the order.
Meanwhile, the statement, declaring Maina wanted, was still on the EFCC’s website as of Saturday night.
When asked if Maina was still on the watch list of the Nigeria Immigration Service, the NIS Public Relations Officer, Sunday James, said he had not been briefed.
He, however, added that anyone on the security watch list could not be allowed to leave the country.
“Our service regulation does not permit anyone on the watch list to travel out of the country and come in at will. If there is any instruction given to us, we comply,” James noted.