By Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately suspend Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Head of Service (HoS) of the Federation and Abdulrahman Dambazau, Minister of Interior in connection with the disgraceful scam surrounding the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina.
Maina, a former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms was declared wanted in 2014 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of pensions related heist running into over $2 billion.
The Rights group said that the Oyo-Ita and Dambazau should be suspended pending the complete investigation of the remote and immediate circumstances surrounding the reinstatement of Maina.
A statement issued on Monday by Emmanuel Onwubiko, National Coordinator of the group said the atrocious and professionally unethical conducts of top public servants connected with the reinstatement of Maina into the civil service long after he had been recommended for dismissal by a federal panel were weighty enough to warrant a clean sweep of the hierarchy of the nation’s civil service and indeed any cabinet level official found wanting in the unfolding scenarios.
It noted that the President should also probe the officials of EFCC which made cosmetic or no effort at all to apprehend the now dismissed Director in the Ministry of Interior when he openly reportedly declared his interest to replace the late deputy governor of Borno State but was turned down by Kashim Shettima, the Borno State Governor.
According to him, “there is more to it than meets the eyes and we think there is a syndicate that specialises in providing classified information to fugitives from the law especially relating to charges or intentions of EFCC to institute charges before the competent court of law. Apart from Maina, there are dozens of top level graft suspects that have gone underground in what looks like a choreographed scheme to undermine the sanctity of the anti-Corruption battle”.
Onwubiko added; “We believe that the Abdulrasheed Maina’s emerging scandal should be the best opportunity to comprehensively reorganise the apparatus of anti-corruption fight because the now dismissed erstwhile Director of public pensions who was declared wanted was however known to be hibernating around major cities of the globe including when he openly dabbled into the political fray in Borno state. The Nigerian people should be told why the EFCC failed to pin him down only for the same fugitive to be railroaded into a higher office which has brought so much opprobrium and disgrace to the people of Nigeria.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier on Monday directed the immediate disengagement from service of Maina in a memo to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, while also demanding a full report of the circumstances of Maina’s recall and posting to the Ministry of Interior.
HURIWA said the action of President Buhari although commendable but amounted to an afterthought and is insufficient to serve as atonement for the enormous damage that the issue brought to Nigeria and created the impression that the Nigerian government tolerates high level of official theft of pensions belonging to senior citizens who toiled day and night for years to serve Nigeria.