As embarrassment swept through Nigeria’s political leadership over the scandal in which Abdulrasheed Maina, a fugitive former federal official who was declared wanted somehow regaining a top position in the civil service, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered his disengagement, according to a tweet by spokesman Femi Adesina.
The tweet read: “PMB orders immediate disengagement of Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina from service. Asks for a full report on circumstances of his recall.”
Vice-President Yemi Osibajo, seen at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on his way out of the country to Indonesia, reportedly chimed in by ordering the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure that the man is fished out.
The orders arrived after the EFCC declared a manhunt for Mr. Maina following a Premium Times revelation at the weekend that the former chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms had been readmitted into the civil service to head the human resources department of the Interior Ministry.
Before he chaired the Task Team, Maina had been an assistant director in that ministry. He was dismissed by the Federal Civil Service Commission in 2013 on the recommendation of the Office of the Head of Service, following a N100 billion pension fraud scheme he was alleged to have headed and was subsequently declared wanted by the EFCC.
News of his reinstatement has been received with tremendous outrage around the country, but SaharaReporters learnt that at least four core members of President Buhari's kitchen cabinet, including Attorney General Abubakar Malami, were instrumental to the maneuvers which clearly demonstrate how the government’s anti-corruption effort has been taken hostage. Mr. Malami reportedly wrote a "legal advice" asking that Maina not be prosecuted for corruption, a memo was then taken to Nigeria's Head of Service, eventually leading to the reinstatement.
Prior to the reinstatement, Maina had met with in Dubai with the Minister for Interior, Abdulraham Danbazua, to perfect the deal. The Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawan Daura, and the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari then assisted Maina's return to the country and even provided him 24-hour protection to prevent the EFCC from arresting him.
The deal was brokered while Buhari was in the UK attending to his health.
Shortly after the scandal broke, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo reportedly summoned EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu and his Chief of Staff to a meeting at the Lagos airport on his way to Indonesia and ordered them to fish out Maina and get him arrested and detained, stating that President Buhari couldn't have been involved in the scandal.
Apart from ordering Maina's disengagement from service, President Buhari also instructed that the circumstances of his reinstatement be investigated and report forwarded to the office of the Chief of Staff but Nigerians are widely skeptical that such an investigation will see the light of day, citing the investigations of former Secretary to the Federal Government Babachir Lawal and the former Director-General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, that were never released to the public or acted on.
SaharaReporters learnt that the investigations against Mr. Oke implicated the DG of the Department of State Services, as Mr. Oke had always warehoused his agency funds for the Director-General without any official records.
“Buhari’s anti-corruption orders no longer have any steam,” a commentator told SaharaReporters today. “You and I know the joke will blow over. Maina will disappear, and the report of the investigation will be forgotten.”