…it’s not true, says EFCC
The Senate ad hoc committee set up to investigate the controversial reinstatement of former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdul-Rasheed Maina, has indicted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Senate, at the plenary on Thursday, further asked the ad hoc committee to probe into the whereabouts of the 222 properties seized from alleged pension fund thieves and kept in the custody of the EFCC.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, moved a motion to extend the probe to the seized properties in the EFCC’s custody, as they had been allegedly “shared.” He also asked for more time to carry out the assignment.
The committee alleged the properties were shared among some highly-placed Nigerians with links to the EFCC.
The EFCC insisted the assets were intact.
Paulker said, “The Senate notes that the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms headed by Maina, in the course of discharging its mandate, recovered about 222 houses, hotels, investment portfolios and properties from pension fund suspects in Abuja and other major cities across the country.
“The Senate equally notes that before Maina left, the pension reform task team recovered assets from alleged pension looters, working with the EFCC, ICPC, DSS, police and paramilitary agencies who executed the recoveries and thereafter, the EFCC took over custody of the recovered assets.
“The Senate further observed that the EFCC, as a member of the Maina-led pension task force team, had the statutory powers to impound and take custody of assets.
“The Senate is alarmed that the total recovered assets from alleged pension thieves are reported to be allegedly shared by some interest groups.
“The Senate further notes that this revelation emerged during the current investigation by the ad hoc committee on the reinstatement of Maina and the committee equally received a petition on the recovered properties by the task force.”
Chairman of the probe committee therefore urged the lawmakers to expand the scope of the investigation and give the panel more time to carry out the exercise.
Meanwhile, the EFCC, said the Senate lied when it said the commission shared 222 pensions properties recovered by the Abdul-Rasheed Maina’s Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms committee.
In a swift reaction, the EFCC, in a statement issued by Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media & Publicity said the attention of the commission had 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.”
The EFCC said in view of the consistent display of public ignorance about the profile of recovered assets by even those who should know, it was important to state that it was impossible for anybody to share a property that was 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,” it stated.