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Finally, Maina Goes To Jail

Finally, Maina Goes To Jail %Post Title






After a decade of high drama and powerplay, the law has finally caught up with the seemingly untouchable former chairman of the Pension Reforms Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina. On Monday, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja sentenced him to a total of 61 years’ imprisonment for defrauding the federal government of N2.1 billion.
 But the crude attempt by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) officials to rearrest a man that had just been convicted and was on his way to prison should be condemned.

The Maina saga is a long-running one, but it is significant that at the end, the system has proved that the former civil servant is not above the law. In 2013, the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, announced at the Senate that the police had planned to place a bounty on Maina’s head but was constrained by lack of funds owing to the delay in signing into law the 2013 Budget.

This convenient but lame excuse came at a period the police had shielded Maina by providing him with dozens of armed and undercover security personnel both before and after the Senate had declared him wanted. Summoned to appear before the Senate to clear the air on a report that indicted him, Maina demurred at first and then later instituted a N1.5 billion lawsuit against both the upper legislative arm and the police.

With a lot of public money to play with, Maina operated as though above the law, moving around the country with a convoy of several vehicles and a retinue of security personnel. He was also a regular visitor to the Presidential Villa at the period. Despite the obvious fact that he was living far above his means, Maina claimed that the Senate was after him because he was exposing corruption. “We are not under any illusion that the struggle to rid the pension funds management of corrupt and fraudulent characters would be a bed of roses,” he said in one of his numerous media briefings. “Certainly not, given that the culprits are sitting on billions of stolen pension funds, and are ever prepared to use the huge loot for shielding themselves from prosecution”.

More confounding at the time was the seeming helplessness of the presidency in dealing with an employee of the federal government. At first the presidency claimed it lacked the power to dismiss the assistant director. Then, due to public pressure, there was a directive from President Goodluck Jonathan for the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to discipline Maina. But suddenly, once it became public knowledge that Maina had escaped and so beyond the reach of Nigerian security agencies, the presidency announced the dissolution of the task force that he headed.

Shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015, it became public knowledge that the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had also met with Maina in another round of controversy about the connection of the former civil servant. Eventually, following public pressure, Maina was arrested to face a 12-count money laundering charges filed against him by the EFCC. But he jumped bail before he was eventually rearrested in Niger Republic last December and brought back to Abuja to continue the trial that has now culminated in his conviction.

Aside forfeiting two choice properties at Life Camp and Jabi districts of Abuja, a bulletproof car and a BMW 5 series car, Maina is to spend eight years in jail. That hopefully brings an end to the sordid Maina drama that has lasted a whole decade. (Thisday)

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