By Onyedi Ojiabor, Assistant Editor and Sanni Onogu, Abuja
•Challenges Maina to prove case
The Chairman of the Senate Joint Committee probing the management of pension funds, Senator Aloysius Etok, yesterday said he would offer himself to be shot if the N2 billion bribery allegation levelled against members of the committee is found to be true.
Etok told reporters in Abuja that it is not true that members of the investigative panel sought N2 billion from the Pension Reform Task Team.
He said the allegation is an attempt by the Task Team Chairman, Abdulrasheed Maina, to divert attention from the mismanagement of pension funds by his team.
The senator said the panel members’ attention was drawn to a statement by Maina, alleging that the joint committee demanded bribe from him and his task team.
The lawmaker said Maina also claimed that the committee was biased against him because of his (Maina’s) refusal to give the alleged bribe.
According to him, the committee could not disregard the “foul alarm and cheap blackmail as a mere ranting… since such is orchestrated to divert attention from the bare facts and incontrovertible evidences of fraud, misapplication, mismanagement and outright stealing of pension funds by the Pension Reform Task Team”.
Etok said his committee was constrained to issue a statement informing the public of “offers of bribe to this joint committee by the Maina-led pension task team and the unbearable pressures being mounted on the committee by the task team, using various highly placed persons requesting for the tilting of this joint committee’s proceedings and final recommendation in favour of the task team, to which this committee vehemently rejected”.
He said: “The pension task team which, through its spokesman, has stated categorically, while reacting to the above statement that this committee has never requested or demanded anything from the task team, has intensified media campaign of calumny and blackmail against this joint Committee such as this belated false alarm of bribe demand.
“The committee may wish to ask: why did the task team not make such allegations since but waited until the committee first issued a statement on their offers of bribe to members of the joint committee?
“Why did the task team, in reacting to the committee’s statement, state, through its spokesman, that the committee has never demanded for any bribe or gratification from it?
“Why is the task team just waking up now to say the committee demanded for bribe? This committee challenges the task team to prove its allegation.”
The senator added that the “joint committee was constrained to issue a warrant to compel the attendance of Abdulrasheed, the Chairman of the Task Team, who has refused to appear and also failed to cooperate with the committee on this pension investigation…”
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