Dr. Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), has charged the media in the country to guard their integrity like that of a woman by cross-checking their facts and sticking to issues, debunking reports that he was on the run.
Hon Ngozika Ihuoma, Executive Director, Legislative Watch, a civil society organization that worked closely with the PRTT Chairman, in a statement, warned that any media outfit that engages in red herring and publishing innuendoes and stories against him from so-called ‘credible sources’ will be liable to defamation suit.
In a reaction to his name being mentioned by some newspapers in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charge against former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Steven Orosanye, Ihuoma observed that “in no way was Maina listed in the 24-count charge preferred against the former HoS and others.
“It is highly irresponsible that some newspapers, otherwise credible, will resort to unidentifiable ‘credible sources’ to link a patriot like Maina that caused the arrest of 48 persons over pension corruption with the issue at hand. It should be stated that neither the EFCC nor ICPC has declared him wanted as he has been around and even delivered a paper in Calabar, Cross River State, last Friday. Is it not a person that has been declared wanted by a legal entity of government that could be said to have gone underground?”
According to Ihuoma, the media should not allow itself to become a tool for mischief or character assassination as it will impact negatively on its credibility as source of news, adding that “we are not unaware of the fact that certain individuals who feel uncomfortable with Maina being around are doing all they could to drag his name into the mud.”
The activist explained that the PRTT had personnel drawn from the EFCC, ICPC, NIA, Police as well as other related agencies with Maina as chairman, expressing the worry why he should be singled out for “unwarranted vilification.”
He further stated that in less than six months of the operations of the PRTT, they were able to weed out 73,000 ghost pensioners, curb the stealing of about N1 billion monthly from police pension; conducted biometrics for over 170,000 pensioners; recovered and saved over N221.855 billion from two pension offices; detected fraud of over N2.7 billion by Nigeria Union of Pensioners; cracked down on pension cartel which has seen the conviction of Mr. John Yusuf of the Police Pension Fund with others standing trial for pension-related fraud and stealing.
He also added that his task team injected N74 billion into the 2012 budget, “a fact acknowledged by the former Minister of Finance and Supervising Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.”