By Nuruddeen M. Abdallah
The Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) was not officially notified of the arrest warrant against the embattled former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms Abdulrasheed Maina, its spokesperson Sunday James told Daily Trust last night.
Speaking to Daily Trust by telephone, James said no government agency notified the NIS of the arrest warrant against Maina.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2013 declared Maina wanted for alleged pension fraud. The Interpol also reportedly issued an international arrest warrant against the ex-pension task force chief.
But when this reporter inquired from the NIS spokesperson why the service allowed Maina to come back to the country despite the arrest warrant by the EFCC and the Interpol, he said he was not aware.
“Was Maina ever out of the country?” He said. When reminded that Maina reportedly fled to Dubai since 2013 when he was declared wanted by the EFCC, the Immigration image maker said: “I have no such information.”
“As the spokesperson for the service (NIS), I can tell you that we don’t have records of Maina’s exit or entry. We are not aware of his exit or entry from this country from our records,” he said.
Mr James said the service read the order on the pages of newspapers, like other Nigerians.
“We read the warrant of arrest on Maina on the pages of newspapers. The Comptroller General of Immigration would have acted promptly on it if such order was ever communicated to the service,” James, an assistant comptroller of Immigration, said.
He said when individuals are declared wanted by security organizations, such organizations officially communicate the order to the CG of Immigration, “who will immediately put his officials on notice at all entry and exit points across the country. When such orders are given, our officials act promptly and such wanted individuals will hardly escape,” he said.
“They (wanted individuals) can only escape from us if they use any of the several illegal entry and exit points, which are not manned by Immigration officials,” Mr James said.
Sources told Daily Trust that Maina used to come and go between Niger Republic and Nigeria since April but ‘settled down’ in August shortly before the return of President Buhari from his sick-leave in London. It was also alleged that Maina uses a Nigerien passport.