The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Friday, arraigned the embattled Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Maina is being prosecuted by the anti graft agency on a 12-count charge over allegations of money laundering, operating fictitious accounts and other fraudulent activities using some banks in the country.
The 12-count charge was dated 16 October 2019 and filed on October 17.
Count 10 reads: “That you Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina (alias Dr Abdullahi Faizal) between 2012 and 2016, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, took possession of an aggregate sum of N1,822,074,690.00 (One Billion, Eight Hundred and Twenty-two Million, Seventy-four Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety Naira), through your Fidelity Bank account (in the name of Dr Abdullahi A. Faizal), when you reasonably ought to have known that the said funds, formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: corruption, and you hereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as (amended) and punishable under Section15(3) of the same Act.”
Count two of the charges against Faisal reads: “That you Faisal Abdulrasheed Maina, (alias Alh Faisal Abdullahi Farms), between October 2013 and June 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, controlled an aggregate sum of N58, 111,585.00 (Fifty-eight Million, One Hundred and Eleven Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty-five Naira) only, paid through the United Bank for Africa (UBA) account of Alh. Faisal Abdullahi Farms, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: corruption of one Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, who is facing a separate charge and thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as (amended) and punishable under Section15(3) and (4) of the same Act.”
Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on Tuesday October 22, 2019 ordered the temporary forfeiture of 23 choice properties linked to the defendant. The order was based on an exparte application by the EFCC, which argued in sworn affidavits, that the properties are believed to be proceeds of the illicit activities of the defendant. Consequently, the court ordered the Commission to cause a publication to be made in a national newspaper, inviting the defendant or any other person with interest in the properties to show cause, within 14 days, why the assets should not be finally forfeited to the federal government.
The properties include: Plot MF 19, Cadastral Zone, Karu, Abuja FCT. Acquired in mother’s name; Plot 18 Road F, Malali North East Residential Layout. Kaduna ;Flat 42C, SMC Quarters, Unguwan Dosa, Kaduna, Kaduna State. Acquired in suspected pseudo name; Plot No 965, Gwarimpa 1 District, Cadestral Zone, Abuja; Duplex Located at No.16 A Katuru Road, Kaduna; 52B, SMC Quarters, Unguwan Dosa, Lot 016 Comprising of 3-bedrooms semi detached bungalow, Kaduna; Property at Tola Street, Badarawa, Kaduna, comprising of 3-bedroom and an undeveloped land; Plot Y12, Kano Street, Kawo New Extension, Kaduna; a duplex at No. 21, 52 Crescent Kubwa Phase IV Estate, Abuja; House 8, 211 Road, A Close, FHA Estate, (3 bedrooms bungalow) Abuja and Farm at Dorawa, Karshi Development Area, Karu LGA, Nasarawa State.
Others are: Farm at Dorawa, Karshi Development Area, Karu LGA Nasarawa State. Karu LGA, Nasarawa state; Plot 3A, Sambo Road Unguwan Rimi (comprising uncompleted buildings), Kaduna; Property located at 16B/BG Gombe Road, Biu, Biu LGA, Borno State; Plot MF-27A, new Pasali Layout, Kuje, Kuje Area Council, Abuja; Plot 1B Ajayi Road, Unguwan Rimi, Kaduna; Block 23, Flat 2 located at Life Camp (2 bedrooms semi detached), Abuja; Property at No. 62, A/C Maternity Ward, Damaturu Road, Biu, Biu LGA, Borno State; Plot of CofO Bo/426 beacon B5086, B5087, B5105, B5104, B5099 Cadestral Zone B05 Utako, Abuja; Plot 37, Kinshasha Road, Maiduguri, Borno State; No 16 Dabai Road off Mangoro Road, Sokoto, Sokoto State; No. 13, Korau Road, Nasarawa District, Kano, Kano State and Plot 965 Cadastral Zone, CO2, Gwarimpa. Abuja.
In court on Friday, Maina denied any wrongdoing in respect of the charges.
In accordance with the provision of section 478 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, Adeola Adedipe, who appeared for the 2nd defendant, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, a company allegedly owned by Maina, entered a “not guilty plea” for the company.
Shortly after the charge was read to the defendant, the prosecution counsel Mohammed Abubakar informed the court that he was ready to call his first witness.
However Ahmed Raji, SAN, who appeared for Maina, interjected and drew the court’s attention to the defendant’s bail application dated October 22, which he had filed prior to the defendant’s arraignment.
The move by Raji was opposed by the prosecution counsel for being incompetent.
Abubakar argued that “the defendants are putting the cart before the horse”.
The EFCC lawyer stressed that the issue of bail application could only arise if there was an adjournment of the matter.
Abubakar reminded the court that the hearing notice served on all parties in the case indicated that all should come prepared for trial to begin, since the charge, proof of evidence, list of witnesses etc had been served on the defendants.
He however admitted being served the bail application of the 1st defendant, but also confirmed that he has not filed a counter affidavit.
The prosecution told the court that the fact that he did not file a counter affidavit in opposition to Maina’s bail application did not mean the anti graft agency had conceded to the application.
The EFCC lawyer said “anytime the defence counsel files a competent bail application, we will vehemently oppose it”.
When asked by Justice Abang what he meant by the application for bail being incompetent, Abubakar said that it was filed before arraignment of the defendant in court.
Clonsequently, the court asked Maina’s lawyer, Raji for his reaction to Section 356(1) of ACJA, which the court raised sumoto, which provides that bail application must be filed after arraignment,
In his response, Raji said he needed time to react to the question and therefore pleaded for an adjournment.
On the prosecution’s position that he was ready to call his witness, Raji said in line with section 36 of the constitution, the defendant was entitled to time for adequate preparation for his defence.
He said the charge served on the defendant was in four volumes of 500 pages each, and that he has not had time to discuss with the defendant, saying he was only given seven minutes to chat with Maina at the office of the EFCÇ without privacy.
Having listened to the submissions of prosecution and defence counsels, the court adjourned the case to October 30, for commencement of trial.
Meanwhile, Faisal, Maina’s son was also docked on a 3-count charge bordering on money laundering.
The court remanded him in police custody pending the conclusion of investigation over allegation of possession of illegal firearms.
His case was adjourned to November 6 for commencement