Failure by the embattled chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina to emerge from hiding and defend allegations leveled against him could cost him his job in the civil service or at best, retirement.
Already, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, yesterday issued directives to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Maina who is a Deputy Director in the ministry, based on directives from President Goodluck Jonathan who ordered yesterday that disciplinary proceedings be initiated against Maina for absenting himself from work without leave.
While receiving a status report from the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, on the police failed efforts to execute the warrant issued by the Senate for the arrest of Maina, the President said that the PRTF Chairman has violated the civil service rules by absenting himself from work without leave and should be sanctioned accordingly.
The Presidency had first said on Wednesday that Maina’s fate could only be determined by laid down civil service rules.
“Maina is a civil servant. If he has done something that amounts to a breach of the civil service rule,the appropriate office to do the right thing and ensure that due process is followed is the office of the Head of Service of the Federation,” the Presidency said while denying backing him.
And yesterday, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, issued a statement which said Section 030402 of the Federal Government’s Public Service Rules lists Absence from Duty without Leave as an act of Serious Misconduct punishable by dismissal.
The statement, said: “The Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, stated in his report to President Jonathan that after receiving the Senate’s warrant for the arrest of Alhaji Maina, he had constituted a team of detectives under the leadership of a Deputy Inspector-General of Police to find and arrest him in compliance with the Senate’s directive.
“The Inspector-General said that the police has since mounted surveillance at Alhaji Maina’s home and office, but has been unable to arrest him because he has gone into hiding and stayed away from both locations since the warrant was issued, leading to his publicly being declared wanted by the police.
“Alhaji Abubakar assured the President that ‘intensive search’ operations were still ongoing for the arrest of Alhaji Maina and that the police will not relent until he is apprehended and produced before the Senate.
“In his directive to the Head of Service, Alhaji Isa Sali, President Jonathan noted that the Inspector-General’s report clearly indicated that Alhaji Maina had absconded from his official duties.
“President Jonathan directed the Head of Service to act expeditiously on the disciplinary proceedings against Alhaji Maina and report back to him on actions taken.”
Government decided to initiate disciplinary action against Maina after Jonathan was briefed by the Senate leadership and in a bid to avoid fresh crisis with the legislature, sources say.
Maina has not been attending to official matters,neither has he physically responded to issues raised by the Senate. Also, the PRTF Office at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja has been closed abruptly without deference to any authority, an action that is seen in government circle as misconduct while the police report on the matter submitted to the President yesterday seems to have compounded his woes.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation ,in a statement through his Director of Press and Publications, Mr. Tope Ajakaiye, said the police report confirmed that Maina could not be located.
Ajakaiye said: “The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, has directed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, a Deputy Director in the Customs, Immigration, and Prisons Pensions Office (CIPPO), an agency under the ministry.
“In his directive to the Permanent Secretary, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation said that following the submission of a report from the Inspector-General of Police to Mr. President of the inability of the Nigeria Police to locate the officer, it has become apparent that he has absconded from duty without leave, an action which, he said, carries severe penalty in line with Public Service Rules No. 030301 to 030304.”
A government officer threw light on what awaits Maina if the current stalemate is not resolved on time.
He said: “With the disciplinary proceedings in place now, Maina is likely to be dismissed or retired from service.
“These two disciplinary measures are in Rule 030301. So, it is left to the Head of Service to make recommendations based on available facts and Mina’s defence.
“Rule 030301 reads: ‘Misconduct is defined as an act if wrongdoing or improper behaviour which is inimical to the image of the service and which can be investigated or proved. It can also lead to termination and retirement.
“These include scandalous conduct, immoral behaviour, unruly behaviour, drunkenness, foul language, assault and battering. (b) rejection to proceed on transfer or accept posting, habitual lateness to work and deliberate delay of files.
“Rule 00304 says: ‘It shall be the duty of every officer to report any case of misconduct that comes to his or her notice to an officer superior to the officer involved…it shall be the duty of that officer to report to the Permanent Secretary or Head of an extra-ministerial office without delay, if he or she considers it necessary that the officer should be interdicted”.
It has been gathered that the INTERPOL has placed him on its watch list in case he decides to relocate or escape abroad. This comes after the Nigeria Police declared him wanted last week on the strength of a warrant of arrest issued by the Senate President, Chief David Mark.
A security source said: “Maina has been watch-listed, and he can be arrested in any part of the world.
“Maina should come out of his hideout in his own interest. We know he is hiding in Abuja; we will fish him out.”
Maina is said to be hiding for fear of being killed by the ‘pension cabal’.