By Chris Steven, Abuja
Femi Falana, lawyer and human rights activist, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate action against all officials involved in the controversial recall of Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms.
Falana described the act by the alleged officials as a deliberate act to subvert the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration and one that has exposed the country to ridicule before the comity of nations.
In a statement issued on Sunday, he said time is not on the side of the President to act decisively on the matter.
Falana said this in reaction to comments by Maina’s family who had accused the Buhari administration of official hypocrisy and betrayal.
He particularly made reference to a press conference held in Kaduna two weeks ago, during which the spokesman for the family, Aliyu Maina, pointed out that “Abdulrasheed was in fact invited by this administration and he was promised security to come and clean up the mess and generate more revenue to the government by blocking leakages.
“He has been working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security. So, one wonders why all the agencies and various individuals responsible for his return are now denying”.
“The highly placed officials of the Federal Government who brought Abdulrasheed Maina back to the country, gave him a clean bill of health, provided him with “necessary security”, reinstated him, promoted him and paid his arrears of salaries and allowances totalling N22 million deliberately set out to subvert the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration.” He said
He described the act as the height of impunity, especially when several workers are still being owed salaries.
“It is the height of insensitivity to pay arrears of salaries to a fugitive at a time when hundreds of thousands of workers and pensioners are owed arrears of their legitimate emoluments.
“Through such demonstration of official impunity, the officials involved have exposed the country to ridicule before the comity of nations.
“Having found Maina and exonerated him why was Interpol not informed that he was no longer wanted to stand trial for his role in the unprecedented pension fraud? Since Mr Maina’s “necessary security” provided by the State Security Service has not been withdrawn why is the Federal Government requesting the Interpol to declare him wanted again?
“Will Interpol believe that a man who was provided with “necessary security” cannot be found by the Federal Government? Why is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission asking Nigerians to assist in searching for the fugitive?” he questioned.
Despite having promised not to sweep the matter under the carpet, Mr Falana urged the President to take immediate steps in ensuring that his administration’s anti-corruption fight is indeed upheld.
“Although the Federal Government has promised not to sweep the Mainagate under the carpet the handling of the monumental scandal so far eroded the credibility of the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.
“Therefore, the sanctions which the Federal Government will mete out to all the officials who conspired to expose the administration and the nation to such avoidable shame will make or mar the fight against corruption and impunity which is the cornerstone of the domestic and foreign policy thrust of the administration.
“Time is certainly not on the side of President Buhari!,” he asserted.