A former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, has asked the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to review the criminal charges against him.
The Federal Civil Service Commission had dismissed Maina in 2013 for absconding from duty, following a recommendation by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
He was accused of being involved in pension fraud running into over N100 billion. After an investigation by the senate joint committee on public service establishment, a warrant of arrest was issued against him.
Subsequently, the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) declared him wanted and he went into hiding.
Maina was reinstated as a director in the Ministry of Interior in 2017 after his return, but President Muhammadu Buhari ordered his dismissal and demanded a probe into his recall after an outcry by Nigerians.
On October 1, 2019, the Department of State Services (DSS) apprehended Maina at a hotel in Abuja after he allegedly sneaked into the country from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
He was arraigned on 12 counts of money laundering by the EFCC on October 25, 2019.
However, in a letter dated August 31, 2020 and addressed to the AGF, Maina through his counsel Edwin Inegedu, described his prosecution as a “witch-hunt” by the EFCC.
He alleged that his prosecution was orchestrated by Ibrahim Magu who was appointed as acting chairman of the commission in November 2015, long after the case against him began.
Magu has however been suspended from office following allegations of gross abuse of office.
Maina said the suspended EFCC chairman failed to account for the assets recovered and kept in EFCC’s custody when he (Maina) was in office.
He said: “In the course of his assignment as the chairman of the PRTT team the sum of N1.63 trillion and a total of 237 properties were recovered by the team comprising of representatives of the EFCC. DSS, ONSA, Police etc.
“All of the sums and the properties recovered were kept in the custody of the EFCC.
“However, rather than commend our client and his team for a job well done, he was singled out for persecution by persons believed to be behind the pension heist.
“It is our further brief that our client’s persecution by the EFCC came to a head under the leadership of Mr Ibrahim Magu.
“This was principally due to our client’s demand that the EFCC should account for the sums and properties recovered by the PRTT, and kept in the EFCC’s custody.
“This demand by our client became necessary as our client was consistently accused of diversion of the funds recovered. Instead of accounting for the sums and properties in its custody, the EFCC maintained a campaign of calumny against our client to obfuscate the issues and to divert attention from its inability to account for the properties warehoused with it.
“It is also pertinent to add that our client has, despite the hordes of persecution and attacks on his person, aided the federal government in a further recovery of N1.3trn recently. This recovery was also referenced by your excellency’s office in a briefing at the senate.
“We urge you, sir, in the interest of justice to prevent the travesty, abuse of public office and malicious prosecutions being carried out by the EFCC.
“It is our prayer that the office of the honourable attorney-general of the federation review all of the files involving our client to ensure that our client’s prosecution is not malicious, mala fide and borne out of narrow interests to prevent accountability for the assets kept in the EFCC’s custody.”