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N469bn pension fraud: How Maina pushed Senate to the wall

On Wednesday, senators debated a motion sponsored by Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba and 107 others, unanimously slamming the executive for shielding the chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina who, according to them, ought to have been sacked, arrested and prosecuted over the N469billion pension fraud perpetrated between 2005 and 2012, as discovered by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Senators Uche Chukwumerije (PDP, Abia), Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia), Olusola Adeyeye (ACN, Osun), Olubunmi Adetunmi (ACN, Ekiti) and Smart Adeyemi (PDP, Kogi), among others, fingered President Goodluck Jonathan as Maina’s “active supporter”, asserting that Maina could not have been so “arrogant, boastful, audacious and insolent” without having a godfather.
Describing senators’ reactions as appropriate, Senate President Mark warned the executive against incurring the wrath of the Senate on Maina’s case, specifically asking Jonathan to choose between Maina and the Senate.
Why did the Senate lose temper over Maina? Mark explained: “We’ve been pushed to the wall and the reactions (from senators) are correct. No matter the depth of the Maina’s situation, nobody associated with Maina in this country will be left to go scot-free. It doesn’t matter who is behind Maina, but no matter who is behind him, we won’t accept it. Let me give you the genesis of why I took so long to allow this matter to be brought to the floor. First, for those who’ve been following Maina, he bought over the entire press and gave the impression that our joint committee asked him for bribe (N3bn). That is not a secret as the media has been awash with it. I then said Maina should be given a fair chance to come and explain himself and expose anybody here who asked him for anything. If we hurried over it, it could appear to be a cover-up and I didn’t want to do that.
“….I gave him ample time to clear himself and carry his accusation to a logical conclusion, but each time he was to appear before the committee, he went for a press conference. The committee denied ever asking Maina for anything. Giving him a fair chance and ample time to defend himself is not a sign of weakness in any way. When I was told that Maina refused to come, I signed a warrant and sent it to the Inspector General of Police.
“The following day, Maina appeared at the National Assembly gate to address his hired crowd. In a newspaper headline, he accused us of colluding with fraudsters to embezzle pension funds. When I signed the warrant, Maina still didn’t show up and I then asked the chairman of police affairs to go and warn the Inspector-General of Police that he’d be on the firing line if he does nothing about Maina. It was then the police declared him wanted. But even after declaring him wanted, Maina was still saying he was in his house. I called the IGP this time around and said Maina said he was around. The IGP said he sent his men from the Force CID to go to Maina’s house and that when they got there, Maina escaped through the back door and that they’d laid siege in his house. I’m saying this because there are a lot of characters in this country who are just pathological liars and professional blackmailers. Maina is just an individual who perhaps says much than he can manage, and he has crucified himself.
“The executive now has to choose between Maina and the Senate. That is the bottom line. If they choose to go along with Maina, fine, we’ll react accordingly. This is a test case. We know the step to take. Maina’s sins are too many to enumerate. When God decided to give people manner, Maina just decided to be absent. Finally, let me emphasise that nobody in this country is bigger than our democracy. Whether the police is serious or not in looking for Maina is the next step we’re going to look at because Maina cannot be briefing the press somewhere and the police will say they can’t find him. Let me assure that the Senate has the teeth to bite and will bite. So, when it’s time for the Senate to bite, nobody can stop it.”

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