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N195b Pension Fund: Senate threatens Jonathan over Maina

•Photo: Jonathan

•Says Presidency treats chamber with levity

By Sola Shittu, Snr Correspondent, Abuja

Angry Senators fumed at plenary on Wednesday, as they asked President Goodluck Jonathan to choose between the Senate and Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who refused to appear before the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment and Public Service and State and Local Government probing alleged misappropriation of N195 billion pension fund.

The Senators warned: “If they (Executive) choose to go along with Maina, fine. We will react accordingly.”

All the Senators who spoke were unanimous in their support for the motion calling for the sack of Maina.

They were particularly angry that though the President was aware of the act of insubordination committed by Maina, he still continues to allow him parade himself by his (President’s) side in public functions in and outside the country.

The Senate, therefore, asked that Maina be dismissed from public service in addition to being disengaged from all assignments relating to public duty.

The Senate also demanded that Maina be investigated and prosecuted.

He should not be accorded any right and privilege whatsoever as may be due to any public office in Nigeria, they further warned.

Inspector General (IG) of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, was also requested to appear before the Senate Committee on Police Affairs to give reasons why he did not act on the arrest warrant issued by the President of the Senate.

Senate President, David Mark, while reacting to contributions to the motion for ‘Dismissal of Maina for refusal to appear before the Senate’ sponsored by 108 Senators, noted that the Senate has been pushed to the wall and that its reaction on the matter was the correct one.

Mark reiterated that the Senate has the teeth to bite and when it decides to bite nobody can escape it.

“I think what we have done is not wrong. The Senate has given him ample time to defend himself. Maina is just an individual who perhaps says much more than he can manage and he has crucified himself. That is the bottom line of this; he has crucified himself.

“Now, the Executive has to choose between Maina and the Senate. That is the bottom line, if they (the Executive) choose to go along with Maina, fine.

“We will react accordingly and to extend the hand of friendship is the best thing for us 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. We know the step to take.

“We can’t enumerate the sins of Maina, they are just too many and like Professor Adeyeye says, when God decided to give people good manners, Maina decided to be absent,” Mark said.

In his contribution, Olusola Adeyeye had warned that Maina’s alleged criminal act should not be allow to go unpunished.

“He must not just be dismissed from service but must be made to face the music for his disrespect for the people of the land.

“When people in this country, no matter how highly placed, begin to display this kind of misbehaviour, then we want to ask who is behind them,” Adeyeye said.

Also, Enyinnaya Abaribe said he was happy that the Senate was now calling the bluff of the Executive.

“We want to ask the question; what is going on, who is behind this impunity? I do not believe that anybody that is schooled in all the details of the civil service should behave in this manner.

“We are looking at corruption right in front of us today. We should be able to draw the line that if you are a civil servant you should be able to act and behave as one.”

Similarly, Deputy Leader of the Senate, Abdul Ningi, said “the situation we are in today is beyond the man called Maina.”

“That this man has pushed us to this extent and we have a government and nobody has called this man to order shows us the kind of system we are operating.”

Smart Adeyemi regretted that while some parts of the country are suffering without portable water and regular power supply, Maina was busy driving himself in bullet proof cars and using N1 billion to do biometric capturing.

Senate Minority Leader, George Akume, wondered that “if we invite people and they cannot come, then what are we here for? I believe this is a moment that we must handle with all the seriousness that it deserves.”