Contrary to claims by the presidency, investigations by the Punch has revealed that the Nigerian Government is yet to send fresh request to the International Police to assist it in tracking and arresting the fleeing ex-Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.
It emerged on Sunday that the Nigerian bureau of INTERPOL is yet to receive a formal request to place Maina again on the agency’s wanted list.
A formal request to the Nigerian bureau of the agency is a pre-condition for forwarding same to INTERPOL’s Internal Headquarters in Lyon, France.
This comes four days after the Presidency claimed that the agency had issued a warrant to arrest him.
According to the newspaper, none of Nigeria’s investigative agencies, the EFCC, Department of State Services, and Nigeria Immigration Service, had made a formal request to the National Central Bureau of INTERPOL to issue an arrest warrant for the fleeing acting director.
The NCB of the international police in Nigeria is domiciled at the Force headquarters, Abuja.
A highly-placed source within the agency, who spoke to the Punch, on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said, “As of Saturday, the INTERPOL General Secretariat had not received any request from either the EFCC or DSS to arrest Maina. So, as far as we are concerned, Maina is not a fugitive.”
The Presidency had claimed on Thursday that the INTERPOL had issued a fresh warrant for the arrest of the embattled official.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had said that Maina’s investigation had been extended beyond his reinstatement and subsequent posting.
He had claimed that an Abuja Magistrate’s Court as well as the INTERPOL had issued fresh warrants for Maina’s arrest for pension fraud.
Mr. Shehu had said, “Maina’s investigation has been expanded. This is beyond reinstatement. It has gone beyond that.
“You know that the INTERPOL has just issued an international warrant on him. A Nigerian court has also issued yet another warrant of arrest.”
It was however learnt that the EFCC did not challenge the court order which led to the revocation of the previous warrant of arrest INTERPOL placed on Maina.
“So, for the arrest warrant to be renewed, the EFCC would need to make (a) fresh request to the NCB which would be processed and the necessary action taken,” the source further explained.
The source also explained that the process for issuing of arrest warrants involved a formal request from a national investigative agency to the INTERPOL which would, after consideration, mandate its member states to issue notices on the suspect.
International notices were usually issued by the INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon, France at the request of a member country, it added.
INTERPOL, it was learnt would not issue a wanted notice or ‘A’ series notices against Maina until the Federal Government met certain conditions.
They include proving that the fugitive had committed a crime and tendering a warrant of arrest issued for his arrest by any law enforcement agency and the court within the jurisdiction where the said offence was committed.
When contacted for comment, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said, “I don’t have that information now, I will find out tomorrow.”
Maina had been invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in connection with alleged N2.1bn pension fraud fund. But he fled the country and was declared wanted by the agency, which had requested the assistance of the INTERPOL to track and arrest him.
Maina returned to the country last month and was secretly reinstated into the civil service with promotion, on the advice of the Attorney General of the Federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami.