By ‘Dotun Akintomide
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Abubakar Magaji, has admitted he acted in error in the botched attempt to reinstate the dismissed former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.
Magaji claimed the responsibility when he appeared before members of House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee investigating the “disappearance, reappearance, reinstatement and promotion of Maina’’ in Abuja on Thursday.
According to him, the reference letter made to inform the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation that Maina resumed duty was a letter sent to the Federal Civil Service Commission.
“When I observed this upon resumption from sick leave, I quickly replied to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, apologising to her about the reference letter.
“But the service is an institution, whatever happened in the process of the minutes, the permanent secretary is the head of the administration and I am here to take responsibility.
“Whatever the Interior Ministry has done wrongly in accordance with the way administrative matter has been done to the end of this matter, I take responsibility because I cannot reject.
“I am the permanent secretary, head of administration and I take responsibility for any administrative wrongdoing that Ministry of Interior has done,’’ Magaji said.
Earlier, Oyo-Ita had insisted that the ministry acted in error on the issue.
She stated that the letter of Maina’s reinstatement was not endorsed by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and the letter of posting not delivered to him.
According to her, the Ministry of Interior did not wait to get posting directives from the Head of Civil Service but it went ahead to act on advance copy issued by the Federal Civil Service Commission.
Oyo-Ita, therefore, insisted that Maina was not reinstated into the service.
“The Federal Civil Service Commission considered the administrative aspect of the case which is punishable by dismissal and the letter reinstating Maina has not been delivered.
“Therefore, he stands dismissed and was never reinstated into the service,’’ she said.
In his submission, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, said that his office had commenced investigation into the letter directing Maina’s reinstatement.
Malami said that though work was in progress over Maina’s demand to be reinstated based on court judgement, “the letter of his reinstatement may not have emanated from my office as at Oct. 5, 2017’’.
He maintained that he did not author nor sign letters purported to have emanated from his office directing the Federal Civil Service Commission to cause Maina’s reinstatement.
“The request for Maina’s reinstatement as submitted to my office by Maina’s lawyers was a work-in-progress as at Oct. 5, 2017,’’ he added.
He told the committee that he had set up a panel of enquiry headed by the Solicito-General and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry to investigate issues around the letter.
Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Aliyu Madaki, issued one-week ultimatum for the submission of report of the investigation to the committee.
“Concerned about investigation that the letter may not have genuinely emanated from his office, the committee will like the probe concluded and the report sent to us soon,’’ Madaki said.
On assets in the custody of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Acting Chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, told the panel that Maina never handed over any asset to the commission.
Magu said that the assets in EFCC custody were those recovered by the Commission in the course of investigating pension fraud.
“Maina has no asset he handed over to the EFCC, and if there is any, we will like to know the type of assets, the locations, date of handing over and which officer signed the handing-over documents.
“So, there can’t be any asset to be shared by the EFCC, and if there was any sharing, we would also like to know when, where, and who participated in the sharing,’’ Magu stated.