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I’m responsible for Maina’s reinstatement – PermSec, Interior Ministry

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Mr. Magaji Abubakar, yesterday, admitted before the House of Representatives’ Adhoc Committee investigating the disappearance, reappearance and reinstatement of embattled former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, that his mistake led to reinstatement of the ex-pension boss.

Consequently, he apologised to the Head of Service of the Federation, HoS, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, for the error. This came as Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, told the bewildered lawmakers that Abdulrasheed Maina was no longer on the payroll of the federal government, adding that his salary was stopped in March 2013.

The Finance Minister’s position was corroborated by the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris.

The admittance of the Permanent Secretary did not, however, come without some trading of blames between him and the HoS.

Hearing of the committee, led by Ali Madaki, APC, Kano, started at precisely 10:20am, with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Magaji Abubakar; HoS, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita; Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris and Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, appearing.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Interior Minister, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau, retd, had earlier appeared before the committee to state what they knew about Maina’s reinstatement.

The investigative hearing took a twist when the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior in his submissions, declared that he got instructions to reinstate Maina from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. This declaration did not go down well with the HOS, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, as she immediately countered his position, saying the Perm Sec was not correct. At this point, chairman of the committee ordered that Mrs. Oyo-Ita be placed on oath.

She said: “For the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Abubakar Magaji, to claim that the directive to reinstate Maina came from my office is limited in facts. To put it mildly, it is not quite correct. 
“There is a process of conveyance of reinstatement instructions. The Federal Civil Service Commission would send a letter to the Head of Service and also send another letter to the beneficiary of that reinstatement under the flying seal of the Head of Service. 
“The Ministry of Interior did not wait to get a posting instruction before they went ahead and reinstated Maina and assigned him duties. “So this is to completely discountenance the attempt by the Permanent Secretary that they acted on an issue in an illegal manner while trying to make claims that there was a legality from my office.’’ 

Oyo-Ita, therefore, declared before the panel that Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina remained dismissed from the civil service as far as the rules and her office were concerned.

Addressing the lawmakers, the PermSec had said: “The AGF has no power to direct the employment, promotion, dismissal and reinstatement of any officer in the service. “The only body statutorily empowered to do that is the Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC, and it must pass through the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.” Asked by the lawmakers if the Head of Service did minute on the letter from the FCSC to him (PermSec) instructing Maina’s reinstatement, the Perm Sec said: “If a letter was written in respect of an officer to the Head of Service and that person decided to hold on to it, it doesn’t mean that the reinstatement had not been communicated.”

He, however, added that he didn’t carry out Maina’s reinstatement personally, adding that the head of human resources did and informed him about Maina’s resumption of duty. The Perm Sec explained he did not effect the reinstatement himself because he was indisposed and directed that a letter be written to the HoS informing her of Maina’s reinstatement.

“It was a week later when the HoS called me to ask for the letter referenced to have come from her that I pleaded with her to allow me get back to the office on Monday to see what actually happened because I was sick by then. “But on getting to the office, I realised that the letter to her was wrongly referenced by the officer I directed to write and I immediately wrote a letter of apology to her that the first letter was actually meant for the Service Commission and not the HoS,” Magaji said.

He, therefore, appealed to the panel to cast every blame on him, being the administrative head of the Ministry. He said: “I take responsibility for every administrative error that has been committed in the course of this whole process of Maina’s reinstatement.”