*Says those around president insincere, part of pension fraud syndicate •
*Name them now – Fayose
Embattled former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina has spoken on the allegations of corruption levelled against him.
Maina in an exclusive interview with a private television station aired yesterday, claimed that certain persons in the corridor of the Presidency who are close to President Muhammadu Buhari were part of the pension fraud syndicate.
Former president Goodluck Jonathan had fired Maina over alleged involvement in pension scam running into over N2 billion and was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2015.
His “mysterious” reinstatement had sparked criticisms and controversy, following which President Buhari ordered his immediate dismissal from the federal civil service.
But Maina insisted that he was innocent of the allegations preferred against him and claimed that the president was being deceived by the people who surrounded him.
In his first main interview since he was fired, Maina appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to give him an opportunity to prove his innocence.
“I recovered money for the last administration and I recovered money for this administration. Now, people don’t know this. Let me explain this; most people don’t understand this. I want the truth to be told and I want Nigerians to understand the truth. I know what is going on in Nigeria.
“Listen, I am not afraid of anybody; I am saying the truth. Thank God that our president stands for the truth, the unfortunate thing is that, some people around him whom he has given trust are lying to him.
“This one I can attest to and I can give you instances and documentary evidences. People portray themselves as if they are saints around the president, it is a lie, they are not.
“I recovered first, we recovered as a team, N282 billion cash. Aside the N282 billion, we were able to bring information and got 43 pension suspects. N1.6 trillion cash, investments and properties were recovered. Now, they have threatened me, they have threatened my lawyers, my brothers, sisters and they have threatened us all. In fact, somebody threatened that my family would be annihilated if I go and testify. I asked Mr. President specifically, Mr. President, if you really want to know the truth and you want to be fair to the whole nation, give opportunity to everybody to come and present.
“I’m appealing to you Mr. President, there are so many things people are not telling you. When I get to that public hearing, I will tell you some things that nobody ever told you Mr. President because I never had the opportunity to sit down with you. And, I am telling you Mr. President, I will give you information and documents that will fetch you over N3 trillion now in Nigeria. If I don’t do it Mr. President, give me nine months. Within the first three months, I will show you N1 trillion, just like I showed you N1 trillion in this 2017 and I will show you again and again.”
Reacting to the challenge thrown by Maina, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose told Maina to go ahead and tell Nigerians the alleged thieves in Buhari’s government as well as answer the corruption allegations against him and his fraudulent reinstatement.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said it was important for Maina to wash himself clean of the N2.1 billion pension fraud that made him escape from the country and earned him dismissal from the civil service.
“There is no need waiting for the president to conduct public inquiry on the pension scam, Maina should just go ahead and tell Nigerians who the thieves among Buhari’s men are.
“Even after naming them, Maina should not expect any action from the president. Rather, he should be contented with satisfying his conscience and putting those Buhari’s men that he said are pretending to be saints in the court of public opinion.”
Fayose said he had again been vindicated on his position that the kind of corruption being perpetrated in Buhari’s government was unprecedented and mind-boggling.
“The Maina’s challenge is another opportunity for President Buhari to prove to Nigerians that he is actually fighting corruption. But I am sure that since it again borders on his closest men, he won’t do anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, a lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, said Maina should present himself before the court rather than requesting to meet with the president.
He described Maina’s comments and request to meet with the president as “cock and bull stories”, as well as an attempt to evade the justice system.
“Maina wants to meet with Mr. Presdient over what? Do we even respect our court at all? Do we respect our judicial process? Do you know that in this country, Supreme Court justices are being tried in court? Who is he to be saying that he wants to recover money? “Present yourself, you are a fugitive from justice. Have your day in court and prove your innocence there – that is the law that I know. All this talk about ‘I want to see the president’ – for what? He has seen the Attorney General of the Federation and he told us that he visited Maina to the knowledge of the National Security Adviser of Nigeria.”
However, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke supported the idea that Maina should be given a chance to speak with President Buhari. (The Sun)