Senate Joint Committee on the Comprehensive Investigation into the Administration of Pensions in Nigeria has on Thursday ordered the arrest of the head of a government task force on federal pension disbursement, Abdulrasheed Maina for allegedly diverting up to N21 billion of pension funds into illicit accounts with three banks, police officials said.
This came after Mr Maina refused to appear before the senate committee to defend himself against the allegations. The committee issued a warrant for arrest, ordering the Inspector-General of Police to produce the Chairman of the Task Team, Albdulrasheed Maina, at 10am on Friday.
It was a new round of irony that tipped higher the scale of abuses that the pension scheme has faced in the past years, leaving government frustrated and public purse drained.
Mr. Maina, an ebullient deputy director in the office of the Head of Service, was drafted to help seal those leakages and save the nation wasted monies while ensuring prompt payment of genuine retirees.
Testifying before the senate committee on Wednesday, he drew the image of a forthright official, who served with integrity and delivered on his assignment. He told the lawmakers how he lowered the number of ghost pensioners and cut pension cost by nearly N1 billion.
But on Thursday, the police pension unit deflated those claims with accounts of how Mr. Maina diverted the pension monies into personal accounts of family members, reaping as much as N100 million interest monthly.
Mr. Maina stayed away while the testimonies were made, and an arrest warrant was issued today for his appearance on Friday.
Senators rejected explanations from associates he had suddenly taken ill suddenly.
The senate also summoned the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and former and present heads of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde and Farida Waziri to appear before it.
The Assistant Chief Account officer in the police pension unit, Toyin Ishola, presented details and evidences of how the transactions were carried out by Mr. Maina.
He allegedly opened the three accounts with First bank(N10billion), Fidelity bank(N8billion) and UBA(N3billion).
The police said the account in Fidelity Bank was in the name of his younger brother, Danjuma Zubairu. It reportedly yielded N100 million monthly.
Police also alleged that Mr. Maina used N240 million to conduct biometric exercise of less than 20 retirees and used over N220 million for local bio data.
Stating the cash transfer with Account numbers, Mr Adeyemi said,“ cash transfer in the sum of N8billion was credited to fidelity bank with A/c No 5030024748, N3 billion to UBA with A/C No 1015556733, and 10Billion to First Bank Plc Maitama branch with A/c no 6062040000231.
Mr. Toyin also told the lawmakers that Mr. Maina ignored due process in the award of contracts of the purchase of biometrics computers and other materials relating to biometric data capturing.
“An issue of splitting of contract was involved because the contract that is supposed to be given to a company was split to avoid the issue of due process. The amount involved is about N12.5 million,” he said in a written presentation.
Mr. Maina was not available for comments Thursday, as he did not answer or return calls to his mobile telephone.