Nigeria’s Federal Government has admitted recalling a dismissed civil servant and former chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.
The recall of Maina, who was sacked for alleged fraud and still has a pending corruption trial, may have opened another window for some Nigerians who have continued to pick holes in the anti-corruption fight of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
This is especially as the Nigerian government only admitted recalling Maina after a report by an online portal revealed that the former civil servant sacked for alleged corruption has been recalled by the Federal Government.
The reports had claimed that Buhari’s government secretly recalled Maina, who was in 2013 declared wanted by Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and promoted him to head a directorate in the Ministry of Interior.
Maina was accused of allegedly being involved in a Pensions Biometric scam which involved more than N2 billion in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
The EFCC had on its website claimed that Maina remained at large even after charges were instituted against his accomplices.
Apparently following the report, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, in a statement released by his press secretary, Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, admitted that Maina is currently head of the Human Resources Department of Interior ministry.
According to the statement, Maina “was posted few days ago to the Ministry of Interior by the Office of the Head of Service on an Acting capacity to fill a vacancy created following the retirement of the Director heading the Human Resources Department in the Ministry”.
While Dambazau admitted that Maina now heads a department under his ministry, he did not however say if he was not aware that he was still under EFCC wanted list.
Dambazau however said he was not responsible for his recall to the service. He said the office of the Head of Service of the Federation and the Federal Civil Service Commission were responsible for “issues relating to Discipline, Employment, Re-engagement, Posting, Promotion and Retirements of Federal Civil Servants.”
Following confirmation of Maina’s reinstatement, reports have emanated that the EFCC had initiated a fresh manhunt for him after an emergency strategy meeting by its leadership held Sunday.
The EFCC reportedly decided to launch a full-scale manhunt for Maina who is said to be frequently shuttling between Kaduna and Abuja since his surreptitious return to the country.
The EFCC was also said to have been especially angered by what it suspected to be high-level sabotage at play, linked to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who reportedly provided affirmative legal advice.
The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, quoted as confirming the management’s decision, said, Maina “is still a fugitive. We are after him”.
Also, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, wasted no time in mocking President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, stating in a post via his twitter handle that, “Someone accused of stealing billions of pension fund was returned to the FG civil service and you still think Buhari is fighting corruption?”
A number of civil society organisations have also come out strongly against the decision to reinstate Maina, calling to question the credibility of the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption fight, and emphasising the negative impact of the decision on the nation.
The coordinator of Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Olanrewaju Suraj, said the reinstatement represented a major setback for the fight against corruption.
“This is a setback not only for the anti-corruption war but also for some of us who have been advocating against corruption.
“It is completely demoralising and also before the international community, it pitches the anti-corruption war as a mere fluke that is been used by this government without any commitment or sincerity.
“It further explains that it is only EFCC that is genuinely fighting corruption and government is merely latching on the achievements of EFCC”, he was quoted as saying.
Also reacting to the development, Chido Onumah, Coordinator, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, said, “the anti-corruption war becomes a problem when the government keeps working for and against itself.
“It’s quite unfortunate. Sometimes you wonder why the federal government continues to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to the war against corruption.
“It creates problem for the government because corruption is not only about perception, it’s about belief. If people don’t feel that the government is sincere about the fight against corruption, it becomes problematic.”