Abdulrasheed Maina, the embattled former civil servant, came highly recommended to head a team tasked with cleaning up a pension mess at the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, when he was appointed in 2010.
Mr. Maina, who for three years headed what was variously called Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT or Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, PTFPR, is a subject of recent controversy following his secret reabsorption into the civil service after he was dismissed in 2013.
In 2015, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, pressed charges of corruption to the tune of N2 billion on Mr. Maina and his accomplices.
Mr. Maina, however, fled before the trial prompting the issuance of an arrest warrant against him, and his listing on INTERPOL’s Red Notice.
To the shock of Nigerians, however, Mr. Maina secretly resurfaced recently and was by late September issued a letter recalling him to the civil service and posted as acting director of Human Resources at the Ministry of Interior.
The person who appointed Mr. Maina to that position, Nigeria’s former Head of Civil Service, Stephen Oronsaye, has provided details of how Mr. Maina came into the limelight, and what he was expected to do.
Court documents obtained, including Mr. Oronsaye’s statement of witness made to EFCC investigators, reveal that Mr. Maina got the pension task on the recommendation of an aide of Mr. Oronsaye.
Mr. Oronsaye also revealed that the entity was not formally constituted as he claimed that he “did not sign any letter of engagement for the pension task team.”
“Maina came on board to head the pension task team from a recommendation by my then Special Assistant, Mr Ayo Otepola, who saw Maina as intelligent. He, Maina, was to head the team to carry out a biometric exercise for civil service pensioners under the office of head of service,” he wrote.
Mr. Oronsaye disclosed that “The pension reform was as a result of many pensioners who clustered around the office of head of service saying that they had not received their entitlements.”
Mr. Maina however went beyond his brief – changing the designation of his committee and expanding the scope of the team’s assignment.
The former head of service noted that the pension reform task “was to be a once and for all exercise and facilities were to be set up in the office of the head of service to capture all outstanding.”
Mr. Oronsaye also told investigators that he knew of the name change of Mr. Maina’s team to “presidential task force” but added that he was unaware “how the change came about.”
He also noted that though he constituted the team as the then Head of Service, he retired from service “before the conclusion of the exercise by the pension task team.”
“I am told by the investigators that about N5 billion worth of contracts were supposedly awarded and monies paid out. This was between 1st January 2009 till May 2010,” the retired civil servant wrote. He however denied wrongdoing.
Mr. Oronsaye is currently standing trial for his role in the alleged pension scam.
He was arraigned alongside Mr. Maina in a suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CR/297/2015 before the Federal High Court in Abuja.