….As NANS Writes PMB, Seeks Open Investigation On Looted Pension Fund
By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah and Kunle Olasanmi, Abuja
The presidency yesterday described reports in the media suggesting a rift between Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari and the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Winifred Oyo-Ita as fabrications over the reinstatement of former chairman of presidential taskforce on pension reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.
This is coming just as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has called for an open public investigation into how pension funds were stolen.
Senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, who clarified on the face off between Kyari and Oyo-Ita was reacting to reports on a trending video on the social media showing the duo and the vice president ironing issues.
Faulting reports on a seeming rift between the two top government officials, Shehu said by tradition, media organizations send their best reporters to the State House, which should reflect on the quality of reporting.
Speaking at a brief meeting with State House correspondents at the Media Center of the presidential villa, he said “I am a journalist myself, and in journalism, you are not supposed to report anything other than the facts of what you heard or observed directly, or what you were told by a firsthand or authoritative eyewitness.
“You cannot add two and two to make twenty-two and present it to the public as news.”
The presidential spokesman insisted that it was impossible for the conversation between the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and the Head of Service of the Federation Mrs Oyo Ita to have been heard by any journalist, as the distance between State House correspondents and the two government officials as they addressed the vice president at Wednesday’s FEC meeting would have made their conversation completely inaudible to journalists.
“People can debate and argue over issues, but to suggest that there was a feud, a fight or a clash was to take matters beyond what they were,” the SSA media said.
Malam Shehu also denied categorically any suggestion that the two government officials had been summoned to see the President over the alleged skirmish, referring to that conclusion as yet another example of conjecture.
“Top government officials of that calibre see the president on a regular basis. To suggest that they were summoned to see him as a result of a so-called feud is just a fabrication, a conclusion that is below the level of responsible journalism that we expect from our State House correspondents”, he said.
There was drama on Wednesday inside the Council Chamber of the presidential villa, Abuja as Oyo-Ita and Abba Kyari engaged in an argument .
Both Oyo-Ita and Kyari had been present for the scheduled launch of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration 2018 Emblem and Appeal Fund on Wednesday as well as the swearing-in of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, when the confrontation took place.
A visibly angry HoS was apparently reacting to the circumstances surrounding the leaked memo when being questioned by both Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Chief of Staff shortly before the commencement of the events.
For about 10 minutes, there were exchanges between Oyo-Ita and Kyari in the presence of other senior government functionaries.
The HoS showed her anger by gesticulating in an obvious effort to drive home her point in an argument with the CoS.
She rose and sat again on her seat a couple of times before moving towards the vice president to continue to make her case.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has called for an open public investigation into how pension fund was stolen.
In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, dated November 2, 2017 and signed by its president, Comrade Aruna Kadiri, NANS said the decision of the president to disengage Maina from service was as a result of misleading reports presented to him by those who are supposed to feed him with detailed development across the country.
The NANS president said the decision to disengage Maina was hasty and generally not of the interest of Nigerians.
His words: “As a body of intellectualism, we observed that there is a ganged up against Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina who was the chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, PRTT under the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
“The PRTT has Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other offenses Related Commission, ICPC, the Department of State Security, DSS, the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, the Nigeria Police Force, the Accountant General of the Federation, the Auditor General of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Finance among others.
“ We also gathered that, immediately Mr. Maina’s PRTT was disbanded, the then government created Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD. PTAD discontinued the on going biometric supervised by the PRTT and got approval of N8bn for the same biometric which up till now, is yet to be carried out”.
NANS further alleged that the director of finance of Maina’s led PRTT is now the director of pension in PTAD, while Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde of the EFCC heads the Police Special Fraud unit in Lagos.
“We believe that it is not possible for the chairman to steal such huge amount without the finance director and other team members if they actually stole public fund”, Kadiri added.
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