The Conference of Minority Ethnic Nationalities and Allied Organisations has urged the Federal Government to allow the former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina [pictured above] return to the country so that he can turn state witness and make further contributions to sanitizing pension administration in Nigeria.
The group, at a news conference addressed in Abuja on Thursday said government must also intensify its focus on the people indicted by Mr Maina since it has now emerged that these earlier unknown actors played crucial roles in the N2 billion pension fraud.
Comrade Bitrus Bot told newsmen on behalf of the Conference of Minority Ethnic Nationalities and Allied Organisations, that other mind boggling corruption cases like the ‘armsgate’ are taking attention away from the pension fraud that was once passionately discussed.
Bot stressed that “The public outrage over armsgate will soon be channeled towards yet another national scandal and we will all forget about it as we move on with life. This is why we think that, as patriotic citizens, we should renew public attention and interest to demand that cases of corruption are pursued to their logical conclusions with perpetrators being sanctioned as prescribed by law.
“This is why we are calling for renewed investigation into the pension sector. Nigerians were once outraged by the mind boggling N2billion pension scam and subsequently called for the head of Mr. Abdulrsheed Maina, who was the former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team.
“The good thing that has come out of this is that Mr Maina has been able to expose the truth behind the scene. He leveled bribery allegations against some highly placed Nigerians such as the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, Senator Aloysius Etuk who should have been exercising Senate oversight on pension amongst others.” He explained.
Bot said the Conference of Minority Ethnic Nationalities and Allied Organisations was demanding for the investigation of Mr Lamorde, Senator Etuk and every other person involved in the pension scam on the strength of the new information provided by Mr Maina.
He insisted that the investigation and any resulting trial must be devoid of the drama that has become the hallmark of anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria and that the EFCC must conclusively close the case.
The group expressed regrets that Mr Maina was forced to remain on the run even though “the government has not been able to prove any case of wrong doing against him in the over three years since he was first wrongly accused of playing a role in the N2billion pension scam.
“All efforts by the EFCC to pin evidence of wrong doing on Mr Maina have been largely futile. A Senate investigation of Mr Maina in 2012 turned out to be a concerted effort to extort bribe from him. If there was any valid case against him, he would have been convicted by a competent court in the space of the three years that has lapsed.
“In view of Mr Maina’s innocence, we therefore call on the Nigerian government to allow him return home under government protection as a state witness. It will be easier to convict those indicted over the pension scam once the prosecution has a state witness of Maina’s stature.”He demanded.
Shagari suggested that Mr Maina should be reinstated to the Pension Reform Task Team to sanitize pension administration since it has been established that he has the backing of pensioners, who now go through hell on account of disruptions to the pensions system since Maina left the helms of affairs at the task team.
By Jerry Emmanson, Abuja