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Sunday 19 November 2017

Maina Gate: AGF Malami Opens Can Of Worms

Maina Gate: AGF Malami Opens Can Of Worms

Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

* How ex-President collected N5b monthly from pension fund

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami may have succeeded in convincing the Senate ad-hoc committee probing the return and reinstatement of fugitive former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina about the good intentions of his involvement in the saga following shocking revelations he made before the panel, which has been sitting in camera for obvious reasons.

The Senate had on October 24 mandated its committees on Establishment, Interior, Anti-corruption and Judiciary to investigate how the ex-pension boss was reinstated and promoted at the Ministry of Interior. The Senate panel is conducting its probe in camera with a promise to brief the media at the end of its investigation.

Multiple sources within the panel however told Saturday Sun that Malami has confessed that indeed Maina approached him for a meeting when he was in Abu Dhabi as part of the entourage of President Muhammadu Buhari’s official visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January last year but before granting him audience, he sought security clearance from the Director General of the Department of State Security, DSS, Lawal Musa Daura who gave him the nod on the condition that the Minister must attend the meeting along with a witness.

The President was also accompanied on that trip by the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno; Ministers of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah; Environment, Aisha Mohammed, now deputy Secretary General at the UN; State Minister Petroleum, Ibe Kachukwu and that of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola.

According to one of the Senators, “the AGF Malami was, to me, very blunt and sincere but because of the sensitive nature of the revelations he made, we could not allow him say those things raw in the full glare of camera and pressmen.

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For instance, he told us how Maina exposed a former President who was taking N5 billion monthly from the pension fund during their meeting in Abu Dhabi.”

A further investigation of this claim from another member of the committee revealed more information.

It was learnt that at the Abu Dhabi meeting, Maina, who was bitter about the way he was treated by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, decided to spill the beans on some of the dirty deals carried over into Buhari government by officials of the previous administration.

“We were told how Maina gave information about loopholes through which a former President was collecting N5 billion monthly from the pension fund while other officials were equally busy taking away billions every month.

We were also told how at the peak of the bazaar, Maina was invited to the presidential villa and in the night when he was leaving the villa, his vehicle was sprayed with bullets with a view to kill him and block any trace of the stolen billions but he was able to survive that because he drove a bullet proof car on the fateful day.

We learnt the vehicle is still within the villa premises as we speak”, the second Senator disclosed.

A third Senator who is also a member of the committee agreed with the claims of the other two when confronted with Malami’s revelations. He however said the sensitive information given by Maina to enable the then new Buhari government block leakages, was not enough ground to dress him in the garment of a saint.

“I agree on what the others told you but that doesn’t make Maina a saint because he was an active accomplice when the looting was going on, despite being appointed to block the same leakages. That he was squealing when the party was over doesn’t exonerate him.”

He said Malami told them how the Federal Government was able to make use of the information given them at the Abu Dhabi meeting to save about N1.3trillion from going into private pockets.

“I think majority of the members of the committee know better now after the closed-door meeting with the Minister because many of us were shocked hearing the things he was telling us.

That is why the executive needs to carry the legislature along in some sensitive issues like this to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding”, another member of the committee told Saturday Sun in Abuja on Friday.

Malami also admitted before the panel that he wrote three letters to the Federal Civil Service Commission (FRSC) on the sacked chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team. Maina was in 2015 accused of over N2billion pension fraud and declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC enlisted the International Police (INTERPOL) to arrest him

But he dramatically showed up in the country and was last month reinstated as acting director in the Ministry of Interior. An embarrassed President Buhari ordered Maina’s immediate sack and a probe of how he was brought back. The EFCC stepped up its investigation.

But Maina has not been seen since then, fuelling speculations he must have escaped from the country again. Maina has however consistently maintained his innocence even though he has refused to surrender himself for proper questioning and likely prosecution in the law court.

Culled: Sun

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