Kaduna – The Embattled former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, has alleged that he is being subjected to relentless persecution and media trail because he stopped pension thieves from stealing N5.32bn monthly from the office of the Head of Service and Police Pension office alone.
In an interview with journalists in Kaduna, Dr Maina said in order to get to the root of the rot in pension, President Muhammadu Buhari must set up a high level committee to investigate all pending petitions relating to pension fraud.
He said that he had “verifiable” evidence the federal pension scheme was returning to “the looting era” which his team set out to end, with an alleged 98% of pensioners denied their benefits since November, 2012.
Maina who was represented by Olajide Fashikun, a spokesman for the Maina family said that with the recent revelation by Senator Kabiru Gaya in a media interview that the N195bn which Maina was accused of stealing is in the TSA account, the basis for his being declared wanted no longer subsist.
He maintained that rather than being vilified, Maina should be praised for saving about N282bn from June 2010 when the team was constituted.
Olajide said: “between the Head of Service and the Police Pension office, the two places PRTT worked, a leakage of N5.32billion was stopped per month. This is what civil servants steal monthly in the two offices out of the 99 pension offices in the country. 43 persons were arrested and handed over to the EFCC to prosecute while 222 houses were seized from them.
“As soon as Maina was driven to exile before the coming of the PTAD, N35billion was stolen in the Head of Service. The ICPC did not come out with the report. How come no body is talking about these monies? Fashikun asked.
“In the current media trial where all manners of stories have been published, there has been a lot of distortion of facts and sometimes outright blackmail, all in an attempt to paint the PRTT boss black like Lucifer”.
“After the biometric exercise, there were 71,000 genuine workers in the police pension office who needed N826million to pay them unlike N5.3billion appropriated for them annually. They were pocketing N4.2billion yearly. They devised several ingenious ways to pull these cash out. They pull out an average of N300million daily Monday to Friday. There are bank alerts to substantiate these assertions.
“There is a particular person who has 69 cloned versions of his name on the pay roll. Bank officials were in cohort. Names of dead pensioners were ‘exhumed’ from the dead and paid pension. Accounts were created with fictitious names.
“The agents who do the multiple collection of these monies from banks get 5% of the volume collected. One of the folks caught then by name Haruna Maigida was paid via three accounts in June 2011 the sums of N7,783,891.68, N17,452,910.87 and N17,293,888.44. He got 5% for pulling the cash. He confessed when the EFCC officials arrested him.
“In petitions one of Teidi’s aides made to the EFCC and ICPC, Mr. Teidi had said he paid the money to a Senator in foreign currency and that the bribe was meant to prevent their prosecution. He told investigators that he equally bribed a former Chairman of the EFCC. Why has the two anti-graft agencies not investigated this matter? Why are they after the man who caught the ‘thieves’ and are not after the ‘thieves’?
Speaking further, Maina’s aide stressed “there has been a lot of deliberate cover in a well written script to give Maina a bad name. Some of those who worked in the PRTT do ‘kabu-kabu’ to augment their survival. They were severely starved of funds, Maina’s PRTT was a clog in the wheel of so many who were looting the pensioner’s funds.
“Maina’s PRTT was brought in to sanitise a very corrupt pension system. It was the success of his pension system in the Ministry of Interior that brought him to the PRTT. Emerging evidence has shown that Maina is just a victim of corruption fighting back.
“The then Senate Committee in a bid to crucify Maina did the hatchet job, when they told the Nigerians that, he stole N195billion. Meanwhile, on 13th April 2016, former Kano Governor, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said in an interview that that money was never missing. So, why is he being tried for the money that is now confirmed not missing? According to the structure of the task force, Maina like none of them therein never had access to the pension fund and could never have taken one Naira lest over N2 billion.
“Former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala during a Senate meeting said that Maina had no contact with funds and revealed how she froze the account where the monies recovered by Maina’s committee was kept and how she transferred the funds to the CBN. So, why will the EFCC continue to hound a man for an offence which they know he is innocent of? Maina was only the head of the team which comprised of EFCC, ICPC, DSS, NIA, office of Accountant General, Auditor General, Public Complaints Commission etc. He was the only civilian in the Task Team.
“Maina was just a victim of high power play of some powerful individuals in high places. So, for three years, Maina suffered ‘media trial’, where he has found guilty several times on the pages of newspaper.
“Despite the several facts presented before the Senate committee during the hearing, the committee chose to ignore the facts, instead, they threatened the then President Goodluck Jonathan, following which Maina was shot with five bullets wounds on the side glass of the bullet proof car Jonathan gave him”, he said.