Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team in the immediate past administration, Mr Abdulrashid Maina, who turned fugitive in the twilight of that administration on allegations of misappropriation of the N2 billion he superintended over and was on the wanted list of the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), curiously found his way back into the country. He also made his way into the mainstream of the Federal Civil Service and was promoted above the post he vacated unceremoniously.
Since the ugly developments, not a few people have rightly been disconcerted about the fact that so soon after he allegedly escaped from the proverbial long arms of the law, Maina was reinstated into the civil service and promoted into further relevance without any court decision on the serious allegations levelled against him and for which he had earlier earned a dismissal from the service. It is certainly a starker irony that he was, upon reinstatement, posted to the Ministry of Interior which supervises the prisons, where he ought to have been had he been found guilty of the allegations against him.
According to media reports, Maina’s reinstatement was facilitated by the advice of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, to the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) based on a clearly spurious interpretation of a judgment pronounced by the now retired Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court which only faulted the procedure of his (Maina’s) arrest by the then Senate committee investigating his alleged criminal activities. Apart from the deliberately insidious act of twisting a court judgment, it still befuddles the mind of right-thinking people how it became the charge of the AGF to advise and instruct the FCSC, by fiat as it were and without any regard for the service guidelines, rules and regulations, to reinstate an official that had been dismissed from service on charges of massive corruption.
The reinstatement of a dismissed official ought to take more than the fiat of the AGF acting singly even if the FCSC needed legal counselling in arriving at a decision on the issue. Again, what informed Maina’s promotion to two levels above his position before his dismissal? How many of his colleagues on the same level had earned such promotion in the same interval? It was even suggested that Maina had been pencilled in to write the promotion examination to level 17, being on level 16 already. To worsen matters, his family even claimed that the fugitive civil servant was actually propositioned by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to help its change agenda and there were telling pictures splashed across the social media showing him in company with members of the kitchen cabinet at Aso Rock Villa.
There is clearly no doubt that the Maina saga has significantly eroded the credibility of the administration and cruelly damaged the image of the austere, disciplined mien and carriage of its arrowhead. It has worsened the poor image of the Federal Civil Service beyond redemption and reinforced the arsenal of the teeming critics of the administration who have been busy highlighting its pretentious proclivities. Even the hurried response from the president ordering the immediate sack of the civil servant in question was untidy. Apart from the administrative lapse of sacking someone whose dismissal has not been adequately quashed, the order belies the will to sanction him properly. The civil servant should have been handed over to the EFCC to conclude its investigation and possible eventual prosecution. This is because a lot of dangerous rumours capable of destabilising the polity have always surrounded the former Pension Reform Task Team boss, including how, during the tenure of the last administration, he was allegedly protected by the security agencies even when he had been declared wanted, and how he was allegedly brought back into the country under the protection of the State Security Service during the current administration.
For this administration to control the damage already done, we think that the president really needs to address the issue personally and come up with credible explanations about how the whole embarrassing mess was wrought. He should make the report from the Head of Service upon which the decision to sack Maina was based available. The Maina scandal is definitely a significant blight on the record of an administration which prides itself on being a corrective one, with zero tolerance for corruption. The fight against corruption cannot tolerate sacred cows and it is time the administration showed the people it has none.