From Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
The 7th Senate has been accused of aiding and abetting “pension thieves” across the country.
The embattled former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina made the allegation in a letter leaked to the media. In Kaduna yesterday
The letter dated 19th June 2015, which he wrote shortly after his return to the country and addressed to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki stated that the task team which took off effectively in January 2011, saved the country N1.6trillion from “pension thieves”, adding that “we used financial intelligence skills to achieve ground-breaking achievements in our assignment. We recovered and saved cash and properties worth over N1.6trillion.”
Titled: “Pension reform task team – Appeal for review of investigation probe by Senate joint committee on establishment and public service and states and local government administration 2011 – 2013.” the letter added that over N3 trillion hidden pension fund is yet to be mopped from 97 pension offices before he fled the country revealed that the Senate refuses to act on his recommendations.
The letter disclosed that Based on the revelations of massive/ monumental fraud and outright stealing of pension funds, which was brought to public attention by the PRTT, the 7th National Assembly by resolution dated 2nd November, 2011 mandated its Committee on Establishment and Public Service, State and Local Government Administration, to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the management and administration of Pension funds in Nigeria. There was general expectation that the various dimensions of irregularities associated with the management of Pension funds in Nigeria would come to an end as a consequence of the investigations being conducted by the Senate Joint Committee.”
Maina maintained that the Senate Joint Committee ended up creating more problems than solutions to the endemic corruption and fraud prevailing in the system because while the Senate haunted them, it favoured the “pension thieves”. “We became objects of corruption fighting us back, from our first appearance before the Senate committee, it was obvious that the entire exercise conducted by the Committee, was geared towards discrediting the PRTT.”
Arguing that before leaving Nigeria following threats to his life, the PRTT had worked so hard that pension payments stabilized, Maina noted that the biometric system adopted by the team exposed 73,000 ghost pensioners in the office of the Head of Service alone. “Some pensioners got backlog of about 30 years paid into their accounts. All payments were ordered under the signature of the Head of Service monthly.”
In this context, the PRTT, wishes to state without any fear of contradiction that the Senate Joint Committee’s Report submitted, which was subsequently adopted by the 7th Senate but now quashed by the Federal High Court judgement of the 13th March 2013 in favour of the PRTT’s Chairman, not only failed to address the issues at stake, but succeeded in misleading the Senate and the generality of Nigerians about the true picture, nature and scope of problems militating against the efficient management and administration of Pension Funds in Nigeria. Copy of said judgement
He added that an appeal to the 7th Senate for fair hearing was ignored as a result, the PRTT approached the Federal High Court Abuja in suit number: FH/ABJ/CS/65/2013. He said the court ruled in his favour on 13th March, 2013 and noted that till date, the Senate had yet to appeal the judgement of the court.
According to Maina, “till date, the Senate has failed to appeal against the judgment of the Court or reverse its decision upon which it passed a resolution for the Chairman of the PRTT (MAINA) to be sacked from the Civil Service.”
Maina noted that his dismissal process was concluded under 36 hours without giving him the opportunity to be heard. “As we write to you, Abdulrasheed A. Maina has been dismissed from Civil Service for being absent for three days while his life was under threat following gunshot attack on his person in front of Head of Civil Service Office, where his office was located in February, 2013. Attached are copies of letters from Nigeria
Maina who is still at large, having been disengaged by President Buhari, sought the following prayers, “We are by this letter appealing to the Federal Government in the spirit of CHANGE which the country is witnessing, and the stand of government on corruption, that opportunity be given to us to present the truth about Pension Management in Nigeria.
“For the Senate to be made to reverse itself from the injustices that was meted to the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT). We shall seek the indulgence of the Senate President to set up an ad-hoc committee to review “1” above. Maina added.