ABUJA – The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has called for immediate suspension of those suspected of complicity in reinstating Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of Pension Task Team, into civil service.
NANS’s President, Chinonso Obasi, in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, said that suspending suspected accomplices in the case would ensure credible probe of the scandal.
Maina was in 2012 accused of misappropriating N100 billion pension funds while he headed the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, an assignment given to him by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
While investigation was being conducted on the allegation, he deserted his job as a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Interior, and disappeared from the country.
He was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Police, and was dismissed from service.
But Maina resurfaced in the country few months ago and was reinstated in service and deployed back to Ministry of Interior as acting Director.
This development drew the flak of President Muhammadu Buhari, who ordered immediate disengagement of the officer from public service, and demanded report on the issue from the Head of Service of the Federation.
However, Maina is believed to have escaped from the country again.
Obasi said that revelations emanating from government circles, particularly in respect to breaches of service rules, insubordination, allegations and counter-allegations on act bordering, were embarrassing.
He said that Buhari was elected to clear Nigeria of corruption and impunity, hence a case of such magnitude should not be trivialised.
He said, “Just recently, a mind-boggling revelation was made of how Maina was smuggled back to the civil service after almost five years of absconding.
“The elevation of Maina from Deputy Director to Director with evidence of official exchange of correspondence amongst government officials is nothing but attempt to ridicule the public image and psyche of Nigerians and the civil service system.
“As advocates of sane and corrupt-free Nigeria, we make bold to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to swiftly suspend all heads of commission, extra-ministerial departments and ministries involved in this sour saga.
“The Head of Service of the Federation, and the Chairman of Federal Civil Service Commission deserve nothing but immediate suspension from office and probe for allowing themselves to be caught in this web of professional misconduct.’’
The NANS president said that it had become imperative for Buhari to rid his administration of those who were making mockery of his commitment to fight corruption.
He said that the police and ant-graft agencies should do all they could to bring Maina to answer to the allegations against him and shed light on how and why he returned to the civil service after absconding for over four years.
“We insist that same measures taken by the presidency in the cases involving the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency be meted out to everyone involved in `Mainagate’.
“This case should be diligently probed and prosecuted and the report should not be swept under the carpet.
“To this end, we hereby issue a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to act and do so with the highest sense of sincerity regardless of those involved and their closeness to the corridors of power,’’ he said.
Obasi said that if no action was taken at the expiration of the ultimatum, Nigerian students would be left with no option than to organise a nationwide mass action.