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THEWILL - Expanding the National Conversation - Maina Must Go, Senate Tells Jonathan

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Maina Must Go, Senate Tells Jonathan

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ABUJA, February 13, (THEWILL) - The Senate has asked  President Goodluck Jonathan to chose between it and the  Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, insisting that Maina must be sacked.

Expressing disgust at Maina's recalcitrance and obvious disregard for the rule of law,  Senate President David Mark, Wednesday, asked the President to choose between Maina and the Senate.

Speaking at the plenary session, the Senators who spoke one after the other described  Maina, as a "liar, rascal and a criminal."

The angry lawmakers   accused "godfathers" in the executive of shielding  Maina thus   encouraging  him to  snub legislative summons over allegations of misappropriating the  pension funds to the tune of N195 billion.

The stern position of the Senate was sequel to the overwhelming adoption of the three prayers of a motion sponsored by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, and 107 other Senators, Consequently, they  unanimously called on President Goodluck Jonathan to dismiss Maina from the public service and disengage him from all acts relating to public duty.

The Senators also directed anti-graft agencies to immediately commence investigation of Maina and his eventual prosecution for alleged mismanagement and embezzlement of pension funds.

Maina, an assistant director in the federal public service .according to the Senators, is being treated like  a king and is constantly ferried in two bullet-proof Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs); escorted by. 27 combined government security details; addresses press conferences and places syndicated paid advertorials without the consent of his permanent secretary and other superior officers in the service.

Maina it could be recalled had accused the Senate Committee investigating him for pension fraud of demanding and receiving N3 billion from the loot.

He had also appealed to  the Senate President to dissolve the committee and constitute a new one to guarantee him fair hearing as well as ensuring a successful probe of the pension sector.

That request  was partially acceded to with the inclusion of the Senate Deputy Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi, and Senate Chief Whip, Bello Hayato Gwarzo, in the Senate panel.

Leading the call  for immediate action against Maina, Senate President, Mark,  explained that the upper chamber up till Wednesday had been patient so as to allow fair hearing to Maina in view of a deluge of pension theft petitions against him as well as Maina's counter allegations of a N3 billion bribe allegedly demanded by the Senate Committee investigating him for fraud.

Ruling on the motion, Mark said; "We (Senate) have been pushed to the wall and the reaction (Maina's sack) is the correct reaction."

He  warned that the Senate will ensure that anybody associated with Maina - accomplice and backers - are brought to book.

He said the battleline between the Senate and the Goodluck Jonathan led executive has been drawn if the latter decides to disregard the Senate resolution on Maina's sack and prosecution.

"The executive now has to choose between Maina and the Senate,that is the bottom line. If they (executive) chose to go along with Maina, fine, we will react accordingly. And to extend the hand of friendship is the correct thing to do because we must work together. There is no running away from that one. It is a test case. If Maina remains, then the Senate will react appropriately and I don’t think we are short of ideas nor are we short of what we want to do.We know the step to take," the Senate President maintained.

 "I said that he (Maina) should be given a fair chance to come and explain himself and expose anybody here who asked him for anything. If we hurried over it, it could appear as if it is a cover up and I didn’t want to do that. I called the two committee chairmen and I asked them if they have been reading what Maina has been publishing on the pages of paper and I also directed that they should invite Maina, go for a public hearing and get the media houses to be there and let Maina say in the front of the media houses and before this nation to say who asked him for bribe and I think that’s fair.

"That was the basis for asking Maina to appear before the committee. Now, Maina wrote a petition to me along the same line, even though he was foolish enough, he didn’t sign it, he is a level 14 or level 13 civil servant, I didn’t bother so much about it because it is civil service procedure because that was  not the subject matter and the subject matter was serious enough, at least to clear the name of the Senate, I told my Chief of Staff to call Maina and tell him that he must appear before the committee and clear himself.

"I also forwarded the petition before the committee for their reaction and their reaction was the he mismanaged certain amount of money and he is refusing to appear before them but Maina wrote another letter to the committee, saying that he had written a petition to me and that he was awaiting an outcome and again, he didn’t sign it. It was signed by somebody under him, that was to tell you the level to which he put himself.

"Whether somebody is behind him or not behind him is a different subject matter entirely. But I got my chief of Staff and my chief of staff called him and said that he must appear before the committee but because he also expressed fear that because he wanted to expose the committee, the committee too would be bias, they will harass him and prevent him to talk,I said fine, the deputy senate leader, and the chief whip should join the committee when he appears before the committee. I gave him ample time to clear himself and to carry his accusation to a logical conclusion but each time he was to appear before the committee, he went to the press to give a press conference and in every occasion, I pointed it out to the two chairmen and of course the committee denied that they never asked Maina for anything.

"The point I am trying to make here is that given him a fair chance, giving him an ample time to defend himself is not a wrong thing and it is not a sign of weakness in any way, it is not. I believe that it is fair and that we should follow the legal system not justice but let justice be also seen to be done.

"That is justice in the true sense of it. When the committee finally came to me and said that Maina refused to come, I then signed a warrant and sent it to the IGP and I think it was the second day that Maina appeared here, hired people and was addressing them in the same vein.

"I pointed all these out to the two chairmen in every occasion and said everytime they called Maina, he must be put on camera, that he must be in public that this Senate is not a place where people will be asking anybody for bribe. When I signed the warrant, Maina of course didn’t show up and then I called the chairman of police affairs and said he should go and warn the Inspector General of Police that he would be on the firing line if he does nothing about Maina. I think then, they declared Maina wanted but even after declaring him wanted, Maina was still talking. Yes, he was still talking and said he was in his house. I called the IGP this time around and said Maina said he is in his house and he narrated what happened. He said he sent his men from the Force CID to go to his house and that when they got to his house, Maina went out through the back door and that they had laid  a siege in Maina’s house. The reason why I am saying all these things is that there are a lot of characters in this country who are just pathological liars and they are professional blackmailers.

"So having gone through all these procedures,I think what we have done is not wrong. The Senate has  given him ample time, Maina is just an individual who perhaps said much than he can manage and he has crucified himself. That is the bottom line of this, he has crucified himself.

"We can’t enumerate the sins of Maina, they are too many and Like Senator Adeyeye said, when God decided to give people manners, Maina just decided to be absent. There is no phrase that anybody has used on Maina here today that is not correct. Finally, let me emphasise that nobody in this country is bigger than our democracy. I have been extremely patient with Maina, very patient,very understanding so that when we react, Nigerians will appreciate the steps that we have taken. So I don’t think that what we have done is out of place,we gave him enough time and he crucified himself. He is wanted by the police, now, whether the Police is serious or not in looking for Maina is the next step we are going to take because Maina cannot be briefing the press somewhere and the police will say they cannot find him.

"Let me assure you that the Senate has the teeth to bite and it will bite when it is time to bite. Nobody can stop it." Mark stated.

In other debates, Senators towed similar views Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu/PDP) said "I have not seen this type of thing in my public service carrier and cannot allow it happen, not in this country. It is also our spiritual duty to cleanse away people like Maina, otherwise this country will never go anywhere".

Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun/ACN) said, "This is a treasonable offence and he deserves to be in prison. His behaviour is criminal and this criminality must not go unpunished, he must be dismissed from service", adding “when people like Maina begin to behave this way, sometimes, I ask who is behind them?”

Deputy Senate Majority Leader,Senator Abdul Ningi ,PDP Bauchi Central, said "what we are witnessing today is beyond the man called Maina". He added, "If the executive want us to operate independently or inter-dependently, we will do it, afterall, we have extended the hands of friendship for so long”

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