Maina: 222 Seized Properties From Pension Thieves Shared, Maina Still Receiving Salary, Lawyers Tells Reps

The Senate on Thursday extended its probe into the controversial reinstatement of former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdul-Rasheed Maina, into the service of the Federal Government to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly, at the plenary on Thursday, further asked its ad hoc committee carrying out the investigation of Maina to probe the whereabouts of the 222 properties seized from alleged pension fund thieves kept in the custody of the EFCC.
 In the same vein, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), who appeared before the Senate panel on Wednesday for the third time in two weeks, has asked the Senate to probe the EFCC over the “missing” seized properties.
A source in the Senate, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity on Thursday, disclosed that Malami denied the letters allegedly sent by him to the Federal Civil Service Commission and the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, demanding that Maina be reinstated.
“The committee has been able to narrow its investigations down to the AGF but the man has denied the signature on the letters. He is insisting that he did not sign the letters,” the source said.
In the 13-page documentary defence he filed to the panel dated November 14, 2017 , a copy of which our correspondent sighted on Thursday, the AGF challenged the panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the monies and properties seized from pension thieves by the Maina-led task force.
Malami raised several questions suggesting that the recovered properties had been shared by government officials and those close to them.
The AGF asked, “What happened to the monies recovered from the syndicate? What about 270 properties comprising of real estate and motor vehicles, one of which is a mansion worth N1bn situated at No. 42, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja allegedly given to a senior lawyer meant to crave his
‘buy in’ in maximising media hype someday, distracting the attention of the public from the pension fraud?”
The mansion was said to have been seized from a former Director of Pensions Accounts, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Shaibu Teidi, and “sold” to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
The minister told the Senate panel that Nigerians were “blind-folded” from getting answers to his questions, citing “perceived compromises in the investigation, prosecution and charges of the real syndicate over the pension related matters.”
Malami added, “Let me conclude by commending the committee led by its Chairman, Distinguished Senator Emmanuel Paulker, for the opportunity afforded me to speak to Nigerians directly by rising above the conspiracy of the pension predators that set in aggressive press negative campaign against me and allowing me an opportunity to address Nigerians thereby upholding the national interest as against the interest of the chain of pension predators.”
A source in the Senate told our correspondent that the particular property mentioned by Malami was one of those listed by a group of pensioners, under the auspices of the Concerned Federal Pensioners, as those “shared” in a petition addressed to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The petition, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, was entitled, ‘Save Our Soul: All the Properties Recovered from Pension Suspects Have Been Shared Among EFCC Officials,’ and signed by the Chairman, Adaku David.
It read in part, “I write to draw the attention of the Nigerian Senate towards the 222 properties recovered by the defunct Pension Reform Tax Force Team headed by Mr. Abdul-Rasheed Maina. These properties are under the custody of the EFCC. The properties, as we speak, have been shared among top officials of the commission, friends and families, including her lawyers.
“It is a matter of urgent public importance that the Nigerian Senate which is today the hope of the common Nigerians to set up an investigative panel as well as recover the said properties as attached below.”
Attached to the petition was a list of 63 houses, those from whom they were seized and their addresses.
The Chairman of the committee, Emmanuel Paulker, on Thursday moved a motion to extend the probe to the seized properties in EFCC’s custody, as they had been allegedly “shared.”
 He also asked for more time to carry out the assignment.
Paulker said, “The Senate notes that the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms headed by Maina, in the course of discharging its mandate, recovered about 222 houses, hotels, investment portfolios and properties from pension fund suspects in Abuja and other major cities across the country.
“The Senate equally notes that before Maina left the pension reform task team recovered assets from alleged pension looters, working with the EFCC, ICPC, DSS, police and paramilitary agencies who executed the recoveries and thereafter, EFCC took over custody of the recovered assets.
“The Senate further observed that the EFCC, as a member of the Maina-led pension tax force team, had the statutory powers to impound and take custody of assets.
“The Senate is alarmed that the total recovered assets from alleged pension thieves are reported to be allegedly shared by some interest groups.
“The Senate further notes that this revelation emerged during the current investigation by the ad hoc committee on the reinstatement of Maina and the committee equally received a petition on the recovered properties by the task force.”
The lawmakers unanimously resolved to mandate the ad hoc committee “to further investigate the circumstances surrounding the properties recovered by the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms.”
They also granted the request by the panel to get two more weeks to conclude investigation of Maina’s reinstatement and four more weeks on the seized properties.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, urged the committee to be thorough with the investigation.
He said, “Chairman of the committee, we do appreciate the seriousness of these two investigations. Ensure that in two weeks, your report is ready. And the ones regarding the circumstances surrounding the properties is even more serious because it goes to the root of some of the issues people are talking about; the kind of large-scale corruption that is going on in this country. But we will hold our opinion because sometimes some of these are just allegations until you confirm what the true situation is.”

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