By MBACHU GODWIN NNANNA, Abuja
The Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has refuted claim by the Senate ad hoc investigation committee that it share properties recovered by the commission.
A statement by the spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, yesterday, reads “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been drawn to comments attributed to the chairman of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee investigating the controversial reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Miana, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, alleging that officials of the Commission shared 222 properties which Maina’s Panel seized from pension fund thieves.
“This sweeping allegation, coming from a Senate Committee is disturbing more so as no attempt was made to verify the information from the Commission. The EFCC was never invited by the Committee and given the opportunity to educate it on the status of assets seized from suspected pension thieves; yet the Committee was comfortable to scandalize the EFCC with the public disclosure of unverified claims by unknown interests.
“ For the avoidance of doubt, there are no 222 properties anywhere that were shared by anybody. The EFCC did not receive a single property from Abdulrasheed Maina. All the pension fraud assets that are in the recovered assets inventory of the Commission were products of independent investigation by the EFCC, for which Maina and his cohorts had no clues. If Maina or any government official witnessed the sharing of any recovered pension assets by any official of the EFCC, they should be willing to name the official, the assets involved; when and where the ‘sharing’ took place.
“As far as the EFCC is concerned, there is no controversy regarding the status of assets recovered from suspected pension thieves. The record of all the recovered assets from both the Police Pension and the Pension Office of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation as well as their current status are intact, and have been communicated to the relevant organs of government.
However, in view of the consistent display of public ignorance about the profile of recovered assets by even those who should know, it is important to state that it is impossible for anybody to share a property that is subject of interim forfeiture by court. Of all the properties seized from pension fraud suspects, it is only properties that are linked to John Yusuf, who was convicted under a plea bargain arrangement that had been forfeited permanently and handed to government. All the others, with the exception of Brifina Hotel, are subject of interim forfeiture. And the cases are ongoing in courts.’
Senate had said that 222 property including exotic houses and hotels recovered by the embattled former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pensions, Abdulrasheed Maina, are allegedly looted again by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This was revealed by the chairman of the Senate committee investigating the botched reinstatement and promotion of the fugitive Maina, Senator Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa South).
It would be recall that the Senate committee had, two weeks ago, met behind closed door with the Attorney General of the Federation ( AGF ) Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahaman Dambazzau (rtd) , chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Mustapha Sulaiman, among others.
It was gathered that the meeting became imperative for the government officials to proffer answers to their alleged roles in the aborted reinstatement and promotion of Maina in the Federal Civil Service, after he was declared wanted by security agencies.
However, Paulker yesterday raised the alarm on the alleged looting of the assets, on the floor of the Upper Chamber, through a point of order.
According to him, the committee evidently gathered while in the course of its on going investigation that the looted houses and hotels were handed over to EFCC by Maina long before he was removed as chairman of presidential task force on pensions in the year 2014.
Also, he revealed that through investigation, the committee further found that the properties are allegedly shared by senior echelon in the EFCC and or some undisclosed interested parties.
Explaining how the committee got the revelation, Senator Paulker hinted that it was some of the invited government officials connected with the Maina’s botched reinstatement and promotion that offered the information.
Consequently, Senate has granted the committee two weeks to submit report on earlier investigation, just as it gave four weeks to expand the scope of the probe on the fresh allegation on the recovered property, with a mandate to ascertain who looted them, how and where the assets are located.
“For this alarming revelation, this committee request the senate to expand the scope of its investigation on Maina by extending it to the management of assets recovered by him and handed over to EFCC before his removal as chairman, Presidential Task Force on Pensions in 2014 and by so doing, extend the duration of the assignment,” Paulker requested.
While granting the request with urge for the committee to be holistic in its mandate, Senate President, Bukola Saraki noted that the allegations are weighty and those behind the looting must be exposed. He announced that the committee should report back in plenary within a month.
“This is a very serious matter and more of large scale corruption going on in a forbidden place. We just hope that it remains at realm of allegation and not as it is presented and till the allegations are confirmed before Senate will take necessary legislative action,” Saraki insisted.