Traces fund to brother’s account
THE Senate Panel investigating the management of pension fund in Nigeria has ordered the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, to arrest and produce the Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, before the committee by 10.00 a.m. today over alleged embezzlement of Police pension fund.
Meanwhile, more disclosures on the alleged excesses of the taskforce were brought before the panel yesterday at the on-going probe.
The Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration, Aloysius Etok, had commended the courage of Assistance Chief Accountant, Police Pension Office, Toyin Ishola, for testifying at the panel.
Being a key witness to the probe, the Committee had directed the Police to ensure the safety of Ishola as well as other testifiers during and after the investigation.
In his presentation, Ishola had alleged that the sum of N240 million was expended on fictitious data capturing operation of only 20 pensioners in Atlanta, Georgia. Further revelations showed that most of the people on the delegation were not members of either the Police Pension Commission or Head.
Ishola further claimed that the said Maina distorted existing Police Pension account, transferring a total of N21 billion into three different accounts including Fidelity Bank, N8 billion, UBA, N3 billion and First Bank, N10 billion.
He said: “The task team within three months unilaterally opened three accounts in different banks without recourse to extant financial rules and approval from the Accountant General of the Federation and the Honourable Minister of Finance.
“It was gathered that the account in Fidelity Bank, Central Business District Branch was domiciled in the name of the younger brother of the Chairman Pension Reform Task Team, named Danjuma Zubairu and the said amount was fixed since then with a monthly interest of over N100 million into the coffers of the perpetrators of the act.” Some N3 billion was deposited in UBA up till date with no proper documentation being effected.”
Ishola further disclosed that the taskforce team came into Police Pension Office in December 2011 with a mandate from the Head of Service to supervise the biometric data capturing of the Police pension office within three months after which he was expected to hand over the biometric data platform to the Director of Police Pension Commission, Mr. Y.K. Adeyemi.
He went on: “However, it was observed that within the period of the assignment, the chairman of the task team had exceeded his mandate by engaging in frivolous and extravagant expenditures, which were beyond his mandate.
“Among these expenditures were the bogus expenditure of the conduct of the biometric exercise of the retirees in the Diaspora, which he spent a whooping sum of N240 million to capture less than 20 retirees and for the local bio-data of which over N220 million was spent.”
According to Ishola, these were just some of activities carried out by the task team within three months of its tenure in Police pension office of which over N3.6 billion was spent without any entry of such in the account books.
“The chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, who always claims he is saving government money, has now embarked on frivolous spending without control or putting into consideration the reconciliation aspect of the office and also, disregarding the financial regulation guiding all government expenditures,” Ishola stated.
To cover his activities, Ishola alleged that Maina had engaged the services of members of staff of EFCC and ICPC, some of who are on his payroll. “He has laso engaged the EFCC and ICPC officials as his buddies hence, some of them are on his payroll so as to use them for his game plan,” he remarked.
He however prayed the committee to intervene in bringing the menace to an end. He also urged them to return Police Pension office to its former glory by removing the taskforce in Police Pension Office and compel the chairman of the team to hand over to the Head of Service with immediate effect.
“Also, the co-ordinating Minister of the Economy should lift the ban on all our accounts so that the Police pension office can carry out its statutory functions to the retirees, next of-kins and pensioners,” he added.
Earlier, Director, Police Pension Office, Adeyemi disclosed how Maina allegedly opened the said three accounts without authority of the Accountant General of the Federation.
According to him, his office was rendered redundant by the taskforce team, which has refused to give them access to operate the Police Pension account.
Former Head of Service, Steve Orosanye recommended that the lifespan of the taskforce should be clearly stipulated and strictly adhered to.
Speaking on allegations that the task team was not taking directives from the Head of Service, he blamed that lapse on the comprise from both sides.
He added that monies for the payment of pensions be kept in the office of the Head of Service because, according to him, there would have been no reason for pensioners to be owed as the funds allocated by the government were sufficient.
“I told them that the allocation for the payment of pensions was over and above what is needed for the payment of pensions.”
Oronsaye also informed that gratuities and pensions that were not paid were not returned to the federal purse but had remained in Pension’s account.
Also at the public hearing was former Head of Service, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, who could not produce the terms of reference for the taskforce. He also denied knowledge of delegates from the Head of Service to the Diaspora data capturing exercise. There was controversy over where delegates were drawn from as testifier had claimed that most of the names were fictitious.