A Federal High Court in Abuja has sentenced Abdulrasheed Maina, the former chairman of the now-defunct Pension Reformed Task Team to eight years imprisonment.
On the same day, within minutes of his conviction and sentencing, a drama of sorts played out within the court premises as operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) made to re-arrest him.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja convicted Maina on charges of money laundering brought against by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and sentenced him to eight years imprisonment.
The Judge ruled that the prosecution successfully established the essential ingredients of the offences contained in the charge, beyond reasonable doubt and convicted him on count 2, 3, 6, 7, 9 and 10 of the charge. The sentenced shall run from October 25, 2019.
The court also ordered Maina and his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, to restitute about N2.1billion that was traced to their bank accounts, to the Federal Government, after which it ordered that the company should be wound up.
The court found Maina culpable of concealing his true identity by inducing officials of two banks, Fidelity Bank and UBA, to open accounts for him, without carrying out due diligence, using the identities of members of his family without their knowledge.
Two of those accounts had cash deposits of N300million, N500million and N1.5billion.
The Court held that Maina stole monies meant for pensioners, “most of whom have died without reaping the fruits of their labour,” as he could not explain the source of the monies in his accounts. Moreover, his salaries and emolument as a civil servant could not justify the monies in these accounts to which is signatory.
The Court further found Maina guilty of purchasing a property in Abuja for which he paid with $1.4million cash, without passing through a financial institution.
The court had on October 8, adjourned till today for judgment after Justice Abang refused the request by counsel to Maina, Anayo Adibe, asking for time to file his written address. The prosecuting counsel, Farouk Abdullah opposed the application on the ground that the defendants had ample time to prepare their written address.
“The defendants cannot dictate to this court how to conduct its business””, he had said. Justice Abang upheld the argument of the defense, stating that “They (defendants) cannot dictate to the court when to file their written addresses and no material is placed before the court to seek for an adjournment in their favourt.”
In the course of the trail, EFCC called several witnesses. One of the witnesses Rouqayyah Ibrahim, who testified as ninth prosecution witness ( PW9) told the court how Maina acquired properties in Dubai, United Arab Emirate, United States of America, and a $2million (Two Million USA Dollars), property in Jabi, Abuja.
The witness revealed that about 32 documents, hard discs and flash drives relating to properties linked to Maina and his family and details of some of his investments in Dubai and in the US were recovered from him.
“Particularly in Dubai, investigation revealed that his company, Northrich Company owned over 50 cars that were used for transportation business and he owns a villa in a High Ground area in Dubai. His wife Laila Abdurrasheed also owns cleaning services, called Spotless and Flawless. We also recovered pay slips during our investigation,” she said.
The witness also disclosed that investigation proved that another of Maina’s company, Kangolo Dynamic does no business but that the defendant created a bank account for it in which his name did not appear anywhere on the account documentation even though he was in control of all the deposits in it.
She also told the court that investigation showed that Colster Logistics, belonging to Maina had a Fidelity Bank dollar account which had an inflow of over $400,000, 00 (Four Hundred Thousand Dollars) from cash deposits as at the time the company was investigated.
She further told the court that over N500 million was discovered in the account of Kangolo Dynamic, within the years Maina was chairman, PRTT.
The trial was not without drama. On December 10, 2021 Maina collapsed in court forcing Justice Abang to adjourn till December 21 to hear his no- case submission. He also at a point jumped bail but was arrested in Niger Republic and repatriated to Nigeria to face his trail.
However, when the officers of the Kuje Correctional Centre were taking Maina out of the court premises amidst tight security, some officers of the EFCC drove into the court premises with two vehicles, blocking the prison Hilux van that was about to convey the ex-pension boss to the correctional centre.
The development led to a hot arguments between the two opposing personnel as they cocked their rifles in defence of their stand.
However, the prison officers stood their ground, refusing to allow the EFCC operatives, some of who came in police uniform, to whisk Maina away.
A prison officer, who spoke to NAN anonymously shortly after the pandemonium, said the EFCC operatives had come in the name of rearresting Maina for another charge.
“They said they have a warrant to rearrest him after he was just convicted.
“Our own stand is that the court just convicted him and if they need to rearrest him, they should come through the court.
“The court will give the directive for us to obey,” the officer said.
▪︎Additional reports by NAN