N150bn pension fraud: Senate, Jonathan for showdown
The N150 billion fraud allegation levelled against the Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reform, Abdulrasheed Maina, yesterday heightened the lingering rift between the Presidency and the legislature as senators recalled with anger the serial refusal of President Goodluck Jonathan to obey the resolutions of the National Assembly.
On this basis, the Senate unanimously mandated federal government to immediately dismiss Abdulrasheed Maina from the public service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and disengage him from all acts related to public duty, failure of which the Senate is prepared to drag stamina with the Presidency.
The Senate which also ordered that Maina be subjected to investigation and prosecution, pointed out that the senate has been pushed to the wall, and is therefore ready to bite whoever that is backing Maina’s corruption.
The Senators while taking turns to lambast Maina for dragging in the mud the name of the senate by bluffing the invitation to a public hearing to defend himself publicly over the N150 billion, also regretted that despite the hands of fellowship which they have extended to the President Jonathan in the interest of the nation’s young democracy, what it has got in return is hostility and disdain.
The senators, pointing out that this does not augur well with the young democracy, observed that if the trend of Presidency shielding some corrupt individuals is not tackled, Nigeria will not move forward.
Suming debate on the motion seeking Maina’s dismissal, which was moved by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba, PDP Cross River, and seconded by the entire 108 senators in upper chamber, the President of the Senate, David Mark, threatened that despite the depth of Maina’s fraud and the personalities involved in it, every culprit must be prosecuted.
While emphasising that the Senate does not care who is backing Maina, the Senate President offered the Presidency to choose between Maina and Senate, saying no body is bigger than Nigeria democracy.
“…when we react,Nigerians will appreciate the steps that we have taken.So I don’t think that what we have done is out of place,we gave him enough time and he crucified himself.
” He is wanted by the police, now, whether the police is serious or not in looking for Maina is the next step we are going to take because Maina cannot be briefing the press somewhere and the police will say they cannot find him.Let me assure you that the Senate has the teeth to bite and it will bite when it is time to bite.Nobody will be spared, we are not short of ideas,” Mark stated.
Speaking ealier, the Leader of the Senate, Victor Egba, narrated that the Joint Committee set up by the Senate to investigate the fraud in the Nigerian pension management, had held committee and Public Investigation Hearings for seven days and according to Section 5 of the legislative houses (Powers and Privileges) Act, invited Maina to come and give account of his stewardship, but he snubbed the committee.
He added that for refusal of Maina to appear before the committee, the Senate President invoked the powers of the senate to compel his appearance by issuing a warrant of arrest on to Inspector General of Police.
He regretted that the Inspector General of Police has up till now, refused to honour and execute the warrant as issued by the Senate President.
Speaking in the same vein, the chairman of the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment and Civil Service, Aloysius Etok, who chaired the senate committee to investigate the pension fraud, said that while Maina was in Abuja claiming to have paid pensioners all their entitlement, names of many pensioners are missing in his pensioners list, adding that the N1billion he claimed to gave spent in acquiring bio data capturing machine for pensioners was fraudulent.
“He never did any verification as he claimed. He is a blackmailer, a pathological lier, he has no education in the rules of civil service,” according to Etok.
Moreover, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenmmadu, said the senate has spiritual duty to cleanse society of lawlessness, lamenting that previous resolutions by the National Assembly in general are mostly undermined by the executives.
Senator Olusola Adeyeye, said it is a treasonable felony for a Deputy Director in the ministry of interior to spun Senate invitation, adding that the President must punish this crime if he believes that the legislature is the engine room of democracy.
Gorge Akume, argued that institutions are bigger than individuals, asking what powers does a deputy director has to over ride the powers if the senate if nit backed up by the Presidency.
Meanwhile, the senate also passed a resolution ordering the Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Ibrahim, to appear before its committee on Police Affairs, to give explanation on why he refused to produce Maina at the time directed by the Senate.
Against this background, Mark said, “When I signed the warrant, Maina of course didn’t show up and then I called the chairman of police affairs and said he should go and warn the Inspector General of Police that he would be on the firing line if he does nothing about Maina.I think then,they declared Maina wanted but even after declaring him wanted,Maina was still still talking.
“Yes,he was still talking and said he was in his house and I called the IGP this time around and said Maina said he is in his house and he narrated what happened. He said he sent his men from the Force CID to go to his house and that when they got to his house, Maina went out through the back door and that they had lay a siege in Maina’s house.
“The reason why I am saying all these things is that there are a lot of characters in this country who are just pathological liars and they are professional blackmailers,” Mark stated.