Oyo-Ita In Heated Quarrel With Kyari Over Leaked Memo On Maina
Abuja – The controversy trailing the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, continued on Wednesday, inside the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, had an argument with Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita.
The argument ensued shortly before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, usually chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
INDEPENDENT observed that the argument was in connection with the leaked memo which Oyo-Ita submitted to the presidency after the removal of Maina from the service on Monday, October 23, 2017.
Bukola Saraki, Senate President; Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, House of Representatives; John Odigie-Oyegun, APC National Chairman, service chiefs, and other dignitaries, who had gathered to witness the launching of the 2018 Armed Forces Remembrance emblem were witnesses to the drama.
Beside the emblem launch, Saraki, Dogara, and Odigie-Oyegun were at the Council Chambers to also grace the swearing in ceremony of the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
Their argument started as soon as Oyo-Ita got seated at the Council Chambers Wednesday morning.
Kyari had engaged her in a discussion which almost became heated.
Oyo-Ita confronted Kyari and said, “I have reached the peak of my career. I am not an elected official.”
Visibly angry, the Head of Service rose from her seat and headed straight to Osinbajo who also engaged her in a tête-a-tete over the issue.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, later joined the conversation after which the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation was seen calming the Head of Service.
Buhari recently ordered the sack of Maina after he uncovered that he had been reinstated into the civil service through the back door and posted to the Ministry of Interior.
On realising that the issue had been blown open, Oyo-Ita had released a statement denying knowledge of how the ex-pension director got reinstated.
While sacking Maina, Buhari had queried Oyo-Ita, instructing her to furnish the Office of the Chief of Staff with a detailed explanation on how Maina got reinstated.
It was gathered that in her response to the query, Oyo-Ita had revealed that the presidency was in the know of Maina’s reinstatement.
She had warned the presidency, it was gathered, of the negative implication of recalling the former pension boss, but her advice was ignored.
It was also gathered that her memo which ought to be top secret document somehow got leaked to the public, a development that has infuriated the Head of Service.
Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, on his part, had also denied culpability in the events that brought back Maina, insisting that the reinstatement was the brainchild of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
As criticisms mounted against the Federal Government, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, to the President had risen in defence of the government, insisting that the disengagement of Maina followed due process.
His defence came on the heels of reports by some lawyers that Maina’s sack was a clear violation of the provisions of civil service rules.
This was quickly followed by a series of tweets from the presidency’s twitter handle, @NGR President, which claimed that Buhari only directed appropriate authorities to effect the order in compliance with due process.
According to the tweets, “Reports that due process was not followed in the disengagement of Mr. Maina from service are incorrect.
“The president directed the appropriate authorities to effect the disengagement in compliance with due process.
“President Buhari will continue to ensure that due process is followed every step of the way.”
Malami To Go For $321m Abacha Loot From Switzerland
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has given Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the nod to go after another $321 million laundered by former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Malami had already taken delivery of $85 million from the UK government, being part of the sum siphoned in the Malabu oil deal.
Malami may sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Switzerland by December, this year.
He got the approval to go after looted funds and other assets at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
At a consultative meeting on assets recovery in Abuja, recently, Malami had announced that efforts to recover most of the looted funds were gaining momentum.
Malami addressed State House reporters, on Wednesday, and recalled the recent recovery of $85 million on the Malabu scandal from the United Kingdom.
According to him, signing the agreement would empower him to recover the funds on behalf of Nigeria.
He explained that representatives of both countries would sign an MoU for repatriation of the funds at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery scheduled to take place in the United States in December.
Malami said: “As you are aware, the Federal Government has been making efforts to recover stolen funds, loot, assets and the efforts have indeed been yielding fruits, particularly as it relates to local recoveries.
“A memo had been presented to council this afternoon by the Office of the Attorney-General which is intended to shift focus to international recovery.
“Before going into the memo, I think it is important to bring to your attention that recently, about a week ago, we succeeded in recovering $85 million relating to Malabu issues from the UK.
“Now, there exists a forum, that is, Global Assets Recovery Forum, taking place in December, in the US and we are looking towards that.
“We are in agreement substantially with Swiss [government] for the recovery of an additional sum of $321 million.
“That memorandum of understanding has been substantially agreed between Nigeria and Swiss.
“We intend to now execute or sign off the agreement during the global forum on assets’ recovery coming up in December.
“The intention of the memo, one, is to seek the approval of the council to allow the Attorney-General to sign the agreement on behalf of the government of the Federation of Nigeria; two, is to develop an instrument of ratification which will now give the Attorney-General the powers to ensure the repatriation of the funds.
“It is collectively agreed upon between Nigeria and Swiss [government] that we, on our own part, should seek the approval of council to ratify the MoU as agreed, and they, on their own part, too, should procure the instrument of ratification that will now give the respective officers of the two countries the desired power and effect to now sign off the agreement.
“The memo has accordingly been agreed and approved by the council, the implication of which is that the MoU, as negotiated between Nigeria and Swiss [government], has been agreed and ratified by council, and then the Attorney-General has been mandated to execute the agreement that will see to the repatriation of the $321 million and, added to it, to develop the instrument of ratification that will be expected from both sides of the divides which will constitute the basis for the signing of the agreement, in December, in US during the Global Forum on Asset Recovery.”
Ogbe Laments Persistence Of Rice Smuggling Into Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded members of his cabinet over the World Bank positive ranking of Nigeria on ease of doing business.
The president’s reaction came at FEC meeting on Wednesday.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, told reporters that FEC celebrated Tuesday’s ranking which saw Nigeria moving 24 places up from its last ranking.
Okechukwu said the ranking was significant because it exceeded the target of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) which only sought to move Nigeria 20 places up.
He described the feat as a turning point for Nigeria in view of the persistent decline in Nigeria’s ranking on ease of doing business in the last 10 years.
The minister said the ranking showed that the government was moving in the right direction.
He said what was paramount to FEC would be to see the ranking translate to practical ease of doing business in the country.
He also said FEC commended the National Assembly for passing some bills which enabled owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to obtain loans for their business transactions.
Also, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said the council approved N40.2 billion for the completion of an irrigation dam in Kotangora, Niger State.
He said the project, which had been under execution since 1985, witnessed the upward review of the initial N18 billion required to complete the project to N40.2 billion after rigorous analyses.
He said the duration of the project was 36 months, and disclosed that the National Irrigation Master Plan launched in 2016 would guarantee the provision of irrigation for 100,000 hectares of land.
On his part, Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said despite government efforts to boost local production, massive smuggling of rice into Nigeria through land borders has remained a great challenge.
The minister also said FEC approved a memo to spray pests destroying farm produce in 11 states in Northern Nigeria, using aircraft.
He listed the states to include Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, Yobe, Borno, among others.