© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
I’ll meet hundreds of Abdulrasheed Mainas again, says Malami
Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, says Abdulrasheed Maina is a patriotic Nigerian whose main objective is to provide information that would benefit the nation.
Therefore, Malami said he would “meet hundreds of Mainas again” if it would help protect the national interest.
He also said the information he got from Maina during their meeting in Dubai, “turned out to be substantially and factually correct”.
Maina is the former Chairman of the Pension Reforms Task Team (PRTT) who fled the country after he was sacked from the civil service and was later declared wanted by the Police and the EFCC for allegedly embezzling billions of pension funds.
Speaking during an interview with The Interview Magazine, Malami insisted that he did the right thing by deciding to meet with Maina even though he was already officially a fugitive.
“If hundreds of Mainas that believe they had information to offer as far as the protection of the national interest is concerned, I will meet them and I will do so again,” Malami said.
Malami, however, explained that his meeting with Maina was witnessed by Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser, as well as Maina’s wife. He also said that he got clearance from Lawal Daura, Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), before agreeing to the meeting.
“The NSA and I met with him at the reception of the Emirate Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. He came along with his wife. We were not aware that he was in the company of his wife,” Malami narrated.
“So we discussed. The discussion happened to be very meaningful, particularly from the point of national interest. It was a time that Maina intimated us to the fact that there exists a cartel, a syndicate within the pension scheme.
“The truth of the matter is that what was being paid as pension on a monthly basis was around N5bn or so. But the actual figure required for pension settlement per month was within the range of N1.3bn. The implication of what he was saying was that around N3.7bn or so went into personal pockets. He confided in me that there was an attempt on his life, when he had fallen out of favor with the syndicate.
“Back home, I looked at the information. I shared it within the government circle. We took advantage of the information provided by him and it turned out to be substantially and factually correct as it relates to a pensions syndicate, and also as it relates to ghost pensioners within the pension scheme. And it turned out to be beneficial as it reduced the pension wage by a sizable degree, that is N5bn to N1.3bn accordingly.
“So that is what happened. But one thing I want to put across clearly is the fact that our discussions with Maina were without any strings attached. He simply came to me as a patriotic Nigerian desirous of providing information that could be beneficial to the government.”
Malami agreed that his meeting with Maina was without the knowledge and consent of President Muhammadu Buhari, but that “much later, after we returned back home, I took Mr. President into confidence about the information”.
He also said that the information provided by Maina had led to the arrest of 14 suspected pension fraudsters, two of whom have already been convicted, while 12 other cases are at various levels of prosecution.
Nevertheless, Malami reiterated that he was not responsible for Maina’s secret reinstatement into the civil service, adding that “as far as the office of the Attorney General was concerned … the reinstatement of Maina, as at today, was a work in progress and no conclusion has been arrived at”.