It is no longer news that Abdulrasheed Maina, the former chairman of Nigeria’s Pension Reform Task Team, who jumped bail in his N20 billion fraud trial, was arrested by the Nigeria Police through the Nigeria Interpol, and the Niamey Police. Maina has since been remanded in Kuje Prison pending the conclusion of his case.
It was pretty shocking that Maina, who had planted a decoy in some media houses, to misinform the Nigerian public that his health condition deterred him from appearing in court, was at the same time perfecting his escape through Niger Republic. It is obvious that either Maina clearly distrusted the Nigerian legal processes or he plainly intended to subvert justice.
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A key witness in the case had revealed that Maina was aided by Stephen Oronsanye, the former Head of Service, to steal N14 billion from pension accounts through several illegal transfers to fake pensioners. This is alongside the N2 billion corruption and money laundering charges against Maina’s firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd. Anyone confronted by a rock-solid case of this nature could easily be tempted to find the ‘easy’ way out. For Maina, the way out was not that easy in the end.
Despite the fact that the story of Maina’s extradition places the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian intelligence in good light, it raises many other germane questions. How did Maina leave the country with such ease—without being apprehended along the borders, especially since the government had long closed the borders? How did he even navigate his way out of the country without being identified and arrested by the Police or the Nigerian Immigration Service?
This raises a red flag that Nigeria’s borders are not only porous, but are equally fraught with undisciplined officers. The escape of Maina needs to be interrogated for all regulatory and supervising bodies to see the limitations of the Nigerian Immigration Service. Hopefully from this, ample solutions to Nigeria’s porous border can be found, especially at a time when insurgents are moving freely, wreaking havoc massively in most parts of northern Nigeria. Findings from this will also help the Nigerian Army gain a fuller grasp of the country’s conflict terrains. Such information can equally help in changing the narratives of our current war against insurgency and banditry.
It was also somewhat perplexing that Niger Republic was so quick to offer assistance in the arrest and extradition of Maina based on Interpol Agreement (an international agreement that allows for collaboration), yet such promptness is not reflected in the anti-insurgency campaign of the West African sub-region. The Niger Republic has even invited the US government to help with drone surveillance, tactical training and other strategic measures to strengthen their war against insurgency in Niger Republic. It is therefore worrisome that despite the relationship that exist within the Economic Committee of West African States, and profitable ecological relations through the Nigeria-Niger joint committee, the Niger Basin Authority and the Lake Chad Commission, the US- Niger security partnership has not really impacted positively in helping Nigeria tackle her insurgency challenges.
The arrest of Maina through collaborative efforts subtly hints that Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and the other West African States can put heads together and eventually arrest Mohammed Shekau and other leaders of insurgent groups that have made the lives of innocent citizens extremely miserable, brutish, uncertain and short. There should therefore be closer synergy and concerted investments in The Multinational Joint Task Force (which Nigeria and Niger are members) to ensure that patriotic force take control of the entire landscape immediately. The agenda of recruiting bunch of mercenaries who do not have any social, cultural, and national attachment or relationship to the peoples would lead to colossal failures. The relationship built by West African nations can help go the extra mile in checking insurgency in the region.