OrderPaperToday – In the last couple of days, Nigeria’s media and public space has been set agog with news of the return of Abdulrasheed Maina; a substantive fugitive wanted over alleged embezzlement of billions of naira in pension funds.

The seamless but shocking re-emergence of Maina after 4 years in self-imposed exile is provocative but what incensed public sensibilities further was his thoughtless re-introduction into the federal civil service at the higher level of Director – a double promotion from his last position of Assistant Director.

Reports that Maina enjoyed the added privilege of state protection by security agencies completely left Nigerians livid and fuming with anger that they could only channel through press releases, mob talk and lengthy “epistles” on social media.

The unraveling of the mastermind(s) of Maina’s return has so far been mired in accusations and counter accusations involving various profile individuals and the cabal that runs President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Many political figures have been fingered in the unfolding saga but Nigeria is not just yet closer to solving the mystery of Maina’s boisterous re-emergence. His family boldly told the world the other day, that its son was invited by the administration to come and serve; and was only being hypocritical by booting him out in the cold in response to the pulse of public opinion.

“The story of Maina’s audacious return generated massive public outcry leading to an order from President Buhari for his immediate disengagement from the civil service. The EFCC has also reportedly launched a fresh manhunt for him.”

In the beginning…
Abdulrasheed Maina first came into limelight due to the swagger with which he carried out his duties as head of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms. On the back of his appointment as head of the Task Force in 2010, Maina and his team were saddled with the responsibility of sanitizing the pension system.

He immediately set to work and reportedly initiated various reforms that led to the discovery of ghost pensioners and uncovering of mismanaged funds worth billions of naira. Maina was very much a man on a roll.

The hunter became the hunted…
The winds of controversy hit Maina in 2013, when the 7th Senate Committee probing Pension Funds Management accused Maina of mopping up pension funds from banks and depositing same in various bank accounts and making profits from the funds. Maina repeatedly failed to appear before the Senate Committee to defend himself against the allegations levelled against him. The Senate acted swiftly and initiated an arrest warrant on Maina, subsequently forcing him to flee the country to Dubai. In 2015, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) declared him wanted for fraud to the tune of 2 billion naira.

The return of the Don…
On Friday 20th October, 2017 reports in the media revealed that Maina had not only returned to the country but was recalled into the civil service to assume duties as Director of Human Resources in the Ministry of Interior. The story of Maina’s audacious return generated massive public outcry leading to an order from President Buhari for his immediate disengagement from the civil service. The EFCC has also reportedly launched a fresh manhunt for him.

“It is no wonder then that the web of controversy surrounding Maina’s return, re-instatement and promotion transcends administrations, institutions, political figures and party lines”

Web without end…
Like him or hate him, Abdulrasheed Maina is an enigma who has always enjoyed special treatment from those in the corridors of power. As contained in Segun Adeniyi’s book “Against the Run of Play”, David Mark who was President of the 7th Senate that probed Maina, had to pressurize and literally threaten the PDP led administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Maina. The cocky fellow then further entrenched his “invincibility” status when he managed to pull off a return to office under the current APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

It is no wonder then that the web of controversy surrounding Maina’s return, re-instatement and promotion transcends administrations, institutions, political figures and party lines. Maina has so far dragged the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the EFCC, National Assembly, and certain government officials including Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau; Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; and Head of Civil Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita into his web of controversy.

As the latest national embarrassment rocking the country unfolds, Nigerians are curious to see who else gets caught in Maina’s ever spreading web.

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Damilola is a multiple award-winning Writer, Researcher, and Community/Sustainable Development Practitioner. His interests and experience span across media, academics, human capital development, and strategic planning. Damilola is a Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellow. He is the first Nigerian in history to win the blog4dev writing contest organised by the World Bank Group. Also, Damilola's writing on violent extremism and sustainable peace in Nigeria won a PeaceWriteNow prize, presented by the Embassy of Ireland in June, 2018. His works have been published in Nigeria and the United States of America, in English and in French. Damilola has also attended important meetings within and outside the African continent including the 2019 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C, USA. He was also a special guest on a panel discussion titled “How creative industry can help to stem fragility,” which was held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C, USA. Furthermore, Damilola was selected as a Champion of Advocacy against extreme poverty and preventable diseases by ONE Campaign in May, 2019. An alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School and Federal University of Technology Akure, Damilola Adeniran represents Nigeria in the Youth Transforming Africa Program.

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