Maina again!

September 9, 2019
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• Is it true his name has been dropped from security agencies’ watch list?

Is Mr Abdulrasheed Maina now a free man? That is the question on the lips of Nigerians, following a media report that his name has been dropped from the security agencies’ watch list. Mr Maina was chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, and was indicted for alleged N2.1 billion scam while in office. Instead of answering the charges, Maina fled to the United Arab Emirate after he was declared wanted by the security agencies in 2013.

Maina is considered a friend of persons in the presidency and Federal Ministry of Justice, and was controversially reinstated in 2017, into the Federal Civil Service, and illegally promoted to the position of Director, Human Resources Department in the Ministry of Interior without sitting for the promotion examination. That decision by the Buhari government caused uproar in the country, as many viewed the action as countering the government’s war against corruption. To make matters worse, Nigerians believe that top government officials also aided Maina to flee the country shortly after.

Now, when it appears the people may have forgotten, is it true that Maina’s name has been removed from security agencies’ watch list? If the report is true, we join other Nigerians to condemn it, as Maina, like the rest of other indicted Nigerians, must have his day in court. Agreed, a Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Giwa Ogunbanjo declared unlawful the declaration of Maina by EFCC as wanted, the decision did not exculpate Maina from pending allegations of sleaze.

The kid-glove treatment of Maina must stop, unless the Federal Government is saying that the war against corruption is not for all. If every Nigerian is equal before the law, then the anti-graft agencies must be given the freedom to deal fairly with Maina, the same way they are handling allegations against other Nigerians. After all, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Of note, the reappointed Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, must realise that his reputation is at risk, because of the way he has handled Maina’s corruption saga.

We recall that Malami admitted meeting with Maina in Dubai, before a senate ad hoc panel probing his strange reinstatement into the public service. The federal attorney general could not explain why he went all the way to Dubai to meet a fugitive, and shortly after, why the fugitive was unlawfully reinstated into the public service, and illegally promoted. Unfortunately, the report of the senate ad hoc committee, headed by the former Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishments and Public Services, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, was not released by the 8th senate before winding up.

Again, despite public opprobrium, the Buhari presidency did not offer any cogent reason for the unlawful reinstatement of Maina. The matter was left to die, and there are allegations that senior officials of the regime were complicit in his second escape from the country. On its part, the EFCC appears to have decided to flow with the tide, as there is no public information that the agency has appealed the decision of Justice Ogunbanjo, that the declaration of Maina as wanted by the agency, was unlawful.

Of note, Maina has claimed to be innocent, alleging that he is a victim in the hands of a cabal that has been exposed by his findings. But all that remain mere speculation, until he put names and incontrovertible facts before the general public. For us, the Buhari presidency owes its reputation a transparent handling of the Maina case. Otherwise, the general public would believe the claim in opposition quarters that there are sacred cows in the war against corruption.

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