About 24 hours after information leaked that President Muhammadu Buhari was in the know about the questionable reinstatement of a dismissed pension fraud suspect into the civil service, the presidency has refused to speak on the matter.
The allegations that Mr. Buhari was briefed of the scheme to surreptitiously recall Abdulrasheed Maina, a fugitive from justice, were raised in an internal memo by the Head of Civil Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita — signaling an escalation in the scandal and its growing impact on the president’s avowed ‘war on corruption.’
“I sought an audience with His Excellency, Mr. President on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, after the FEC meeting where I briefed His Excellency verbally on the wide-ranging implications of the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina, especially the damaging impact on the anti-corruption stance of this administration,” Mrs. Oyo-Ita said in the memo to Mr. Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
The Punch Newspapers published the October 23 correspondence Tuesday morning, lending the strongest corroboration yet to an earlier suggestion by Sahara Reporters that Mr. Buhari knew about the Maina affair but was only feigning ignorance to hoodwink the public.
PREMIUM TIMES on October 20 broke the story of Mr. Maina’s dubious return to civil service after years of being on the run, sending shockwaves through the nation and placing the administration’s conduct under renewed public criticism and scrutiny.
If the president was carried along by Attorney-General Abubakar Malami and Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau —the two officials at the heart of the recall— it would be difficult for him to yield to public demand to fire either or both of them.
Mrs. Oyo-Ita’s memo was probably her response to Mr. Buhari’s demand that the top civil servant put together a report detailing how Mr. Maina sneaked back into public service.
Mr. Buhari summoned the report when he demanded an expedited dismissal of Mr. Maina from service on October 23, an uncharacteristically swift response to public outrage that led many to assume that the scandal also caught the president by surprise.