It is in the best interest of Nigeria for politicians to use our anti-graft agencies to fight themselves or whomsoever they would ordinarily look away from. Though they end up being called ‘hypocritical’, at least the Nigerian people get some form of atonement. The former head of service, Winifred Oyo-Ita became a marked lady since she went public with Buhari’s knowledge of Abdulrasheed Maina’s reinstatement and the role the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami played in bringing back the former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT).
She told the public how Malami by passed her office through the Federal Civil Service Commission and got Maina reinstated into the civil service with a promotion to Director at the Ministry of Interior. To use the exact words of the House of Representatives probe committee, Maina’s reinstatement was ‘fraudulently master-minded’ and that the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami ‘pressured all that mattered’ to force Maina back into the civil service.
The Presidency after almost 2 years of searching, eventually found Oyo-Ita wanting in a N3bn contract scam and forced her into retirement. The lady herself isn’t putting in much of a resistance perhaps in the hope that she is availed a soft landing. Well, not that too many are jumping to her defence.
If a lot of Nigerians criticized former CJN, Walter Onnonghen’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal despite knowing his defence to having over a billion naira in liquid cash as at 2016 was that he saved his allowances and sold farm produce, it was because they were worried Buhari wanted a northerner in place and in time for the 2019 election petitions.
Oyo-Ita won’t enjoy that privilege and Nigerians are bound to treat her case as a welcome casualty in the power game.
Maina was arrested just days ago at a hotel in Abuja along with a 20-year old son of his whose name was given as Faisal after sneaking in from Dubai. There are 2 issues we should be worried about. The first is the tendency of the Buhari administration to lock away persons with sensitive information without trial. Maina while in hiding, granted an interview saying Malami orchestrated his recall into the civil service after a meeting with him in Dubai on the orders of President Buhari. In other words, Maina corroborated Oyo-Ita’s position on Buhari being fully aware of his return. It is not only the DSS that hides anyone government doesn’t want squealing on it.
Buhari’s former head of DSS and townsman, Lawal Daura was arrested shortly after the siege by his men on the National Assembly complex with the last heard about him being he had been handed over to the police. Aisha Buhari’s Aide de Camp, Sani Baba-Inna was accused of defrauding unnamed persons of N2.5bn in her name. There were questions as to how a common ADC would grow so much ball. That was before a member of his family in an interview with popular activist Prince Deji Adeyanju said they knew he took the money because he had been keeping money for ‘madam’.
As a matter of fact, they were aware of a house he bought for one of Buhari’s daughters in Abuja. Baba-Inna was also ‘handed’ to the police. More than a year later, Daura and Baba-Inna haven’t been taken to any court. Maina in addition to how President Buhari was a part of his recall, also claimed to have pointed this administration in the direction of stolen public funds. Asides saying what could raise questions as to how government proceeded regarding those funds, he may know a lot more.
Maina must not be hidden somewhere. If they have arrested him to answer for his alleged embezzlement of N2bn pension funds, then they must do so. We must bare in mind that the last major talking point generated by the Buhari’s war against corruption was the withdrawal of charges against Danjuma Goje for looting funds as Gombe state governor in what appeared part of a deal to make him step down for the President’s preferred choice for Senate President.
If Maina is an attempt to score some PR points for themselves, then they must be aware that it means more than that to Nigerians. Questions will definitely be asked of Buhari and his gang if Maina is controversially let go.
The second thing we should be worried about is Abubakar Malami’s involvement in the Maina saga. If Buhari is immune from prosecution, Malami isn’t. Nigeria’s Attorney-General is accused of meeting with a wanted fugitive which is a crime and also boycotting due process in installing him back into the system. What of Abubakar Malami? If President Buhari didn’t know sitting down with a fugitive is a criminal offence, it is the duty of the Chief law officer of the country to point it out to him.
The House of Reps have already indicted Malami in Maina’s reinstatement and we cannot revisit the issue of Maina without mentioning Malami. Oyo-Ita wasn’t reprimanded, sacked or charged to court for lying and that more than anything indicates they all knew she was telling the truth. Buhari has not acted on Oyo-Ita’s report neither has he acted on that of the House of Reps all indicting Malami. While on the hunt for Oyo-Ita, Buhari didn’t even bother constituting his own probe even if to give Nigerians a wrong impression that he was serious about fighting corruption. He still doesn’t care what anyone thinks. These are the times we live in.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano. Twitter:@Alaye_100