The head of civil service of the federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, has issued queries to the permanent secretaries in the ministry of interior and the federal civil service commission for their alleged roles in the surreptitious reinstatement of the former chairman of pension reform task team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina.
Oyo-Ita, who had denied being privy to Maina’s reinstatement in the civil service was said to have asked the two civil servants to explain their roles.
The senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, who confirmed the development, said the permanent secretary in the ministry of interior had responded to the query, while the response of that of the civil service commission was being expected.
“The head of service queried the permanent secretaries of the federal civil service commission and the ministry of interior.
“The response of the permanent secretary of the ministry of interior is in now and I think that of the commission may be turned in too,” he said.
Shehu had, while confirming the receipt of Oyo-Ita’s report on, indicated that the presidency was still awaiting other reports.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described Maina’s reinstatement in the federal civil service through the backdoor as an “embarrassment” to the federal government.
The party’s national publicity secretary, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, stated this while speaking with journalists.
He said that the development was unacceptable and also embarrassing to the party.
Mr. Maina was dismissed from the Federal Civil Service for abandoning his duty post and evading arrest for his involvement in the mismanagement of about N2 billion pension fund.
“We are all shocked like any other person. It is almost unbelievable that such a thing can happen.
“However, we are all delighted that President Muhammadu Buhari has taken very decisive punitive action against those that are involved.
“We are also delighted that he has ordered full scale investigation into the circumstances that led to this individual to be reinstated into the public office,’’ he said.
Mr. Abdullahi said the APC believed that those that were part or found to be part of the development would face appropriate consequences.
He, however, debunked insinuations that the president was shielding the suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, over corruption investigation.
Meanwhile, the Senate and House of Representatives ordered separate investigations into the circumstances surrounding the reinstatement and subsequent promotion of Maina.
The senate’s decision followed the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Isa Misau.
In his motion, Misau noted that it was disheartening that an individual, who had been on the wanted list of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for fraud-related offences, could be re-absorbed into the public service.
“When the person left, he left as assistant director; but when he was coming back, he was given the position of a director, not even a deputy director. And this person who is on the wanted list, when he came back, people saw policemen attached to him.
“I don’t understand why a government that is always talking about fighting corruption and the same people who are close to the President are covering people who are highly corrupt in the society,” he said.
He recalled that the 7th senate investigated Maina and he was declared wanted.
“I think in a government where we are preaching that the right thing be done, it is a big embarrassment for this government. We need the Senate to investigate this matter and find out how this person came back, how security men were attached to him and did not arrest him.
“I think it is unfortunate. For me, it is only the President who is talking about anti-corruption; people surrounding Mr. President are the ones giving cover and shelter to corrupt individuals.”
Senators took turns to condemn the minister of justice and attorney general of the federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami.
The senate chief whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, described the development as a “sad moment.”
“Those charges (against Maina) remain unanswered but tragically, not only did he return, he returned to an elevated position. It is an insult to all the civil servants who were doing their jobs diligently during those years Maina ran away.”
“We cannot be saying we want to fight corruption and then we allow this kind of ‘the more you look, the less you see.
“What is sure is that certain people in the Executive are determined to make this President fail. Every member of my party and every patriot who is here must ensure this President does not fail. Whoever is responsible for this terrible decision must account for it.”
Adeyeye recalled the Maina issue was extensively debated in the 7th Senate, saying, “It got to an extent that the then Senate President, Senator David Mark, actually gave the then President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the option to choose between loyalty to Maina and respect for the Constitution and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It got too bad because at that time we were alarmed that a (Grade) Level 14 officer had more than 25 policemen guarding him day and night. It got so bad that every time the then President travelled, a Level 14 officer was always in the front roll even though he had nothing to do with any area that had to do with protocol.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Senator Attai Aidoko, argued that his colleagues were looking at the symptoms and not the cause.
He said, “The person who returned Maina is the problem. The Minister of Interior said that he had no power to return Maina; that somebody else was responsible for returning Maina.
“The person, who returned Maina, as we were told, is the attorney general of the Federation. This is not the first time the attorney general would be doing something like this.”
Senator Dino Melaye, in his contribution said, “Buhari is a very good man and the man means well but he is surrounded by cankerworms and caterpillars.
“We are not talking about Maina; we should talk about the integrity of the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice; that is the chief law officer. If the law officer has his hands stained, then the entire nation is higgledy-piggledy,” he said.
Similarly, Senator Samuel Anyanwu described Maina’s reinstatements as a “discouragement” to the civil service.
He urged the senate to invite Malami to address the lawmakers on how the fugitive was reinstated.
Subsequently, the senate president, Bukola Saraki, set up an investigative panel, made up of chairmen and vice chairmen of senate committees on public service and establishment; judiciary, human rights and legal matters; financial crimes and anti-corruption; and internal affairs and mandated it to hand in its report two weeks.
Equally, the House of Representatives passed a resolution and directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to immediately arrest and prosecute Maina to “serve as a deterrent to others who might have corrupt tendencies.”