Late last week, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau arrogantly informed Nigerians of the recall, promotion and posting of Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform and a fugitive, to the Ministry of Interior. According to the statement from the minister, 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”.
Just to rehearse, in 2010, the Goodluck Jonathan administration redeployed Maina from the then Ministry of Internal Affairs to sanitize a corrupt pension system. However, shortly after, in 2012, Maina was himself accused of being the arrowhead in a massive fraud in the scheme amounting to more than N100 billion.
Based on the allegations against him, Maina was invited by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration. The Senate, after completion of its investigation, issued a warrant of arrest against Maina. Ignoring the panel, Maina sued the Senate and the then Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and then went into hiding after being declared wanted by the police. Following his disappearance, Maina was dismissed by the Head of Service for absconding from duty and attempting to evade arrest, and was charged to court alongside Stephen Oransaye and others for fraud. He has remained at large since then ignoring court summons to answer to the charges levelled against him. Rumours have it that he fled to the United Arab Emirates. He was declared wanted by the Economic and Financials Crime Commission and was consequently dismissed from the Civil Service for absconding from his duty post without permission. Following a request from the Nigerian government, the International Police Organisation (Interpol) last year issued a red alert on Maina.
This is the same Maina that had just been reinstated and promoted by the Buhari administration, a supposedly upright and non-corrupt administration.
Meanwhile, despite his reinstatement, the EFCC maintains that the former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team still remains a wanted man. But with the government officially absolving him of all crimes, it is clear there is nothing the EFCC can do.
But Maina is not the only being shielded from prosecution and or rehabilitated after being sacked for corruption. The Minister of Interior – Abdulrahman Dambazau – was himself sacked as the Chief of Army Staff in 2010 on charges of fraudulent arms deals totalling over $1 billion. Mr Dambazau was never cleared of the allegations but was nonetheless appointed Minister of Interior by the supposedly corrupt-free Mr Buhari.
Also, the Presidential panel set up to probe arms procurement between 2007 and 2015, and whose reports were being used to prosecute past military chiefs, with the exclusion of Dambazau, was hurriedly disbanded the moment it began moves to investigate the tenure of the Present National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, as Chief of Defence Intelligence between July 2009 and September 2011. The curious reason given by the government for its dissolution was that it has outlived its usefulness.
Till date, nothing has been heard on the report of the investigation into the allegations of corruption against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, months after it was submitted to the president by his Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
It is now so obvious and as averred to by a keen watcher of the Nigerian system that “Buhari’s so-called anti-corruption fight is the most invidiously selective, the least transparent, the most brazenly unjust, and the silliest joke in Nigeria’s entire history. Here is a man who doesn’t give his corrupt political opponents the benefit of the doubt. He orders their arrest, jails them, and uses the EFCC to smear them in the media on the basis of allegations, but tells astonishingly bald-faced and easily falsifiable lies to defend, deflect, minimize, and excuse the corruption of his close aides and political associates.” Perhaps Nigerians will become wiser in future and refuse to accept politicians who ask them to trust them blindly without vigorously arguing their reform agendas.