Friday, December 14, 2012

N195bn Missing Pension Fund: Drama as Hearing Venue Turns Viewing Centre

 The venue of the public hearing on the missing N195 billion pension was, on Thursday, turned to a viewing centre  due to the late arrival of the members of the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment, Public Service, States and Local Government and some of the parties involved.

Many people had gathered as early as 10.00 a.m. in compliance with the directive by the chairman of the committee, Senator Aloysius Etok, on Wednesday, that the hearing would resume by 11 a.m.

To while away the time, those already in attendance were treated to a variety of both local and foreign programmes on the television while some others took their turn to observe their early morning siestas.

After more than three hours of waiting, the committee adjourned further hearing on the investigation till next Wednesday.

This was just as the chairman of the Pension Tax Team, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, who had shunned the public hearing for five consecutive times,  dramatically stormed the hearing venue, at 2:15 p.m.  with four armed men from the Directorate of Security Services (DSS).

Senator Etok, after a brief session, announced that Senate President David Mark had signed the warrant of arrest of Alhaji  Abdulrahaman Maina and threw the floor open for the other members of the committee for comments.

“Once again we want to say that we have tried our best in the principle of fair hearing, we demanded that Alhaji Maina should appear before this committee today and once again he has failed to appear.

“This nation is bigger than any individual. We are entitled to render account of our stewardship to the people whenever we are called upon.

“Maina has always complained that we did not give him fair hearing and so we decided to go extra mile even at a very high cost to this committee to re-invite him again”, he said.

From that point, the co-chair of the committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya, took the floor to express his annoyance with the aparent disregard of Maina for constituted authorities.
While Senator Gaya was still speaking, the man in the eye of the storm caused a distraction as he walked straight to the front row with Gaya pausing to say, “there is a latest development, Maina has just walked in.”

However, his appearance could not disuade the Senators who rather ignored him and went to announce next Wednesday as the next date for the hearing and walked out of the venue almost immediately.

Pensioners in the hall were full of rage for Maina and the security weaved round him, with most of them threatening to deal with him for the apparent indignant.
Speaking with newsmen after the members of the committee took their leave,  Maina however said he was not aware of the Senate invitations.

“I came last night from a trip and I don’t really know what is happening I don’t know what is going on. How can I refuse to come when I am not even in town?
“When I came back last night I heard that I have been asked to come to the Senate so that is why I came,” he said.

He also dismmissed the warrant of arrest issued on him as a joke, saying, “I don’t think anybody has ordered for my arrest. I think it is just mere talking. Nobody has ordered for my arrest. I want Nigerians to know that that is not true.”

He also said the missing N195 billion pension fraud “is not just about me. They are talking about all the pension offices in Nigeria from 2005 to 2009 and the task force did not exist during that time. So, I don’t know where they are getting their figures because I have no business with that.

“I was not there 2005 to 2009. But I can tell you that my team has been able to recover N221 billion which we have given to Nigerian government.

“Also right now we are trying to mop up over N30 billion again and we have been able to cause the arrest of all these pension thieves. Everybody has seen them; it is clear.

“We have also been able to remove the names of 73,000 fake pensioners and fake account numbers. We have all the records.

“We have been able to pay the pension arrears and gratuity for pensioners all over the country those that have never been paid. In fact, I have asked that those names be published so that the whole world will see.

“Right now the EFCC has confiscated over 211 properties through the task team. You know when you fight corruption, it fights you back.  So definitely its not going to be easy for anybody fighting corruption.”


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