Maina To Remain In Custody As Court Rejects Fresh Bail Application

A file photo of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused to hear a fresh bail application filed by the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.

The judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed declined to hear the bail application filed by Maina’s lawyer, David Iorhemba, on the ground that it was contentious.

He ruled that the matter could not be heard during the court’s vacation and consequently returned the case to Justice Okon Abang who has been the trial judge in the substantive case, for hearing on the application when the court resumes from vacation.

Earlier in his argument, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Andrew Ocholi had opposed the application filed by Maina, saying he had filed a counter-affidavit and a preliminary objection to show that the applicant was no longer entitled to bail.

Maina is standing trial alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited over a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering of over one billion naira, among other offences.

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The ex-pension boss was first arraigned on October 25, 2019, after which Justice Abang ordered that he be remanded in the Correctional Centre at Kuje, pending a hearing of his bail application.

He was subsequently released from the correctional centre in July after perfecting his bail conditions.

However, his bail was revoked on November 18, 2020 on the grounds that he jumped bail and was rearrested.

Upon his rearrest, he returned to court where the court ordered that he be returned to the custody of the correctional centre in Kuje until his trial was concluded.

With the development, his lawyer, Francis Oronsaye, withdrew from the case while his new lawyer, Anayo Adibe, filed another bail application.

However, in a ruling on February 28, Justice Abang refused to grant the application on the grounds that it was without merit and that Maina failed to place sufficient materials before the court to convince it that he deserved another bail.

He held that Maina did not deserve to be admitted to bail again after violating the conditions of the bail granted him earlier and later adjourned the matter until October 4 when the court would resume from its vacation.

Maina’s Trial: Court Fixes March 17 For Falana, Malami, Others To Testify

A photo combination of Mr Femi Falana and Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed March 17 and 18 for a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana; the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and nine others to appear before the court.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, fixed the dates on Thursday for the persons to testify in the trial of Abdulrasheed Maina, a former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT).

Justice Abang had issued a subpoena on Maina’s request, compelling the AGF, Falana, and the former acting chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, and the eight others to come before the court on March 9, 10, and 11 to give their testimonies.

At the resumed trial, Falana informed the court that although he has not been served with the subpoena, he heard about it and decided to come before the court out of respect.

He said the subpoena would provide an opportunity for him to put an end to the needless controversy surrounding a property he never bought.

During the proceedings, the defendant called his second witness, Charles Emoakemeh, who is a retired prison officer.

Emoakemeh told the court that Maina was appointed as the Director of the Pension Office and recovered about N10 billion for the Federal Government after removing ghost pensioners.

He also noted that as the Head of the PRTT, Maina did not have control over the disbursement of monies unless approval was sought from the then Head of Service.

On March 4, Maina’s first witness, Ngozika Ihuoma, had told the court about monies and properties recovered by the former PRTT boss and how Magu to whom the properties were remitted, had allegedly sold some of the properties to friends and associate, including Falana.

Alleged Money Laundering: AGF, Magu, Others Fail To Testify In Maina’s Trial

A file photo of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina

 

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and Ibrahim Magu, a former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), have failed to appear before a Federal High Court in Abuja in respect of the trial of Abdulrasheed Maina.

Maina, the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged money laundering to the tune of ₦2 billion.

Justice Okon Abang had on Maina’s request issued a subpoena compelling the AGF, Magu and nine others to come before the court on March 9, 10 and 11 and testify for the defendant.

Apart from the AGF and the former EFCC acting chairman, others issued with the subpoena are the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, M. Mustapha; Hassan Salihu; Mohammed Wakil; G.T Idris; Kenneth Amabem; Ibrahim Kaigama and CBN director of compliance.

At the resumed sitting of the court on Wednesday, none of the compelled persons showed up as the counsel to the defendant, Sani Katu instead, moved to call another witness after the court refused his oral request to withdraw from the matter.

However, Katu informed the court that Charles Enakaeno, the prospective witness, was involved in an accident and could not make it to court.

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In a bench ruling, Okon Abang berated Maina for failing to assemble his witnesses on time after being given the opportunity to do so since December 21, 2020.

Justice Abang said: “Sometime on December 21, 2020, the first defendant lead counsel, then Mr Anayo Adibe, informed the court that they intend to call 24 witnesses and that the defendant be given adequate time to assemble these witnesses.”

“The court then vacated December 22 and adjourned this matter from December 21 to January 26. More than one month for the defendant to assemble his witnesses and open his defence,” he said.

“For upwards of 76 days from December 21, 2020, the first defendant did not apply for a subpoena to compel witnesses to come to court to testify on his behalf.

“However, on Monday, March 8, 2021, in chambers, between 12;35 and 12;40 pm, the court registrar forwarded to the court in chambers, about 10 subpoenas filed by the first defendant not filed by the court, compelling about 10 persons to come to court to testify on his behalf today.

“I merely signed a subpoena based on the court of appeal decision in the case of Metuh vs FRN that compelled the court to sign a subpoena seeking to compel Colonel Dasuki to come to court and testify on behalf of Metuh.

“But ordinarily, I could not have on my own, signed a subpoena to compel an individual a day before the matter is fixed for hearing to come to court and testify for the first defendant because he failed to take advantage of the opportunity offered him to be heard.

“The first defendant cannot on March 8 seek to compel the appearance of witnesses to come to court on the 9th.”

The Court had earlier refused an application by Sani Katu seeking to withdraw his appearance as counsel to Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) as the Prosecutor, Farouk Abdullah, opposed the application on the ground that the senior counsel ought to have complied with Section 349(8) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

Section 349(8) of ACJA states that “where a legal practitioner intends to disengage from a matter, he shall notify the Court, not less than three days before the date fixed for hearing and such notice shall be served on the Court and all parties.”

Alleged Money Laundering: Witness Insists Maina Recovered N1.63trn In Assets

A file photo of Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina

 

As the trial of the chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) continues in Abuja, a witness, Mr. Ngozika Ihuoma has maintained his stance that the PRTT under Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina made huge recoveries amounting to N1.63 trillion in assets.

Mr. Ihuoma, a management consultant who took part in the biometric capture for pensioners in 2010, said with Mr. Maina as chairman, the team also recovered N282 billion from suspected pension thieves within the first 18 months.

The witness while being cross-examined by the prosecution counsel Mohammed Abubakar said he stands by his earlier testimonies including those relating to the monies warehoused at the Central Bank of Nigeria but did not tender documents to back his claims.

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During further cross-examination by the prosecutor, the witness also admitted that he has not tendered documents to prove that N74 billion of the recovered funds was used for the 2012 national budget.

Earlier, Justice Okon Abang had ruled against the admissibility of a document which the defendant’s counsel, abiola olawole, sought to tender. The said document showed allowances of members of staff of the tax team as well as those of National Assembly members on oversight.

The prosecutor said the document, though a public one, was not a certified true copy, making it inadmissible in evidence, thus prompting the ruling by the judge.
The case has been adjourned till the 9th, 10th, and 11th of march for the continuation of the cross-examination of the first defendant’s witness.

Maina’s Trial: Defence Witness Accuses EFCC Of Mismanaging Recovered Properties

A file photo of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina

 

A defence witness, Ngozika Ihuoma, has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under the leadership of Mr Ibrahim Magu of mismanaging 222 properties recovered by the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT).

He made the claim on Thursday while giving his testimony at the continued trial of the former PRTT Chairman, Abdulrasheed Maina, at a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Ihuoma, who was a consultant to the PRTT, alleged that out of the 222 choice properties handed over to the EFCC, Magu purportedly sold a property to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, for N1 billion naira in 2015.

He added that the property said to be situated at No. 42 Gana Street in the Maitama area of Abuja was originally valued at N6 billion as of 2011.

But Falana has since denied the allegation, saying, “I never bought any property from the EFCC.”

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Withdraw Charges Against CJN, Falana Tells FG
A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

The witness also told the court that the PRTT under the leadership of Maina gave an intelligence report in 2013 to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on an alleged plot to move N35 billion out of the Head of Service Pension Office under the interim management committee of Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, who later became the Head of Service of the Federation before she was replaced.

He insisted that the trial of Maina amounted to persecution, stressing that he was the only member of the defunct PRTT that was being prosecuted despite the huge financial recoveries made for the Federal Government.

After listening to the testimony of the witness, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, adjourned the case until March 5, 2021, for the cross-examination of the witness.

Maina is being prosecuted by the EFCC on charges of money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

At the last sitting, Ihuoma had told Justice Abang that Maina recovered N282 billion in cash and 222 choice properties valued at N1.6 trillion.

He explained that the said money was warehoused at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by the EFCC and the ICPC, saying N74 billion out of the money was used to finance the 2012 national budget, as passed by the then National Assembly.

The witness had also told the court that a presidential directive was issued by former President Goodluck Johnathan that 2.5 per cent which amounted to N7.05 billion of the recovered money be used to run the PRTT’s official duties.

He stated that the fund was never released despite several requests and reminders to the Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly.

Alleged Money Laundering: Abdulrasheed Maina Opens Defence, Calls First Witness

File photo of Abdulrasheed Maina

 

A former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, has opened his defence in a case of alleged money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Maina opened his defence by presenting a witness, Ngozika Ihuoma, a consultant whose firm between 2010 and 2011 carried out the biometric verification of pensioners in the country.

The witness told the court that prior to the biometric capture, the sum of ₦1.5billion was paid monthly as police pension but upon completion of the exercise, the pension payments dropped to 4 ₦66million.

Ihuoma further informed the court that the PRTT headed by Maina had on November 2011 recovered the sum of ₦181billion in pension fund surplus which was subsequently warehoused at the Central Bank of Nigeria by the EFCC..

After listening to the evidence of Ihuoma, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang adjourned further trial to March 2 to enable the witness to conclude his testimony.

Maina and a firm, Common Input Ltd are standing trial on a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of two billion Naira.

Court Fixes February 25 For Ruling On Maina’s Bail Application

File photo of Abdulrasheed Maina at court premises

 

A former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to vacate an order made to continue his alleged money laundering trial in absentia.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Okon Abang, had on November 18, 2020 ordered that Maina’s trial would continue in his absence after he jumped bail and refused to attend trial until he was later arrested in Niger Republic and extradited back to Nigeria to continue his trial.

At the resumed trial, Maina’s lawyer moved an application praying the court to set aside both orders made by the court considering the fact that the defendant has been brought back to face trial.

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The prosecutor, Mohammed Abubakar however objected to the application on the ground that setting aside the trial in absentia order is “tantamount to setting aside all the proceeding conducted by this court in the absence of the first defendant.”

The court also made an order remanding the defendant in prison pending the conclusion of the trial.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Maina for alleged money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

Alleged Money Laundering: Abdulrasheed Maina Renews Application For Fresh Bail

Abdulrasheed Maina

 

A former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina has renewed his application for a fresh bail as he informed a Federal high court in Abuja that he needs the urgent attention of a medical practitioner.

At the resumed hearing of the application, counsel to Mister Maina prayed the court to grant the defendant bail on grounds of deteriorating health as he assures the court that his client has sworn an undertaking dismissing any likelihood of jumping bail.

In opposition to the bail application, Counsel to the EFCC argued that the application by the defendant on account of Ill health may afford him another opportunity to jump bail as he insists that the defendant’s condition is not life-threatening to warrant him been flown abroad for medical attention.

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The Prosecutor argues that the defendant is entitled to a medical practitioner but cannot choose the medical facility to attend. He adds that the high blood pressure suffered by the defendant is a result of mismanagement on his part as he promised that the anti-graft will provide the defendant with a specialist.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, after listening to the parties adjourned the matter to the 24 and 25th of February, 202 for the hearing of the substantive motion and ruling.

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Adjourns Maina’s Trial, Bail Hearing

A file photo of ex-pension boss Abdulrasheed Maina.
A file photo of ex-pension boss Abdulrasheed Maina.

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned the trial and hearing of bail application of the defunct Chairman of the Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina until February 19 at the instance of his lawyer, Sani Katu.

Justice Okon Abang adjourned the matter on Monday after the defence lawyer told the court that he needed more time to enable him to prepare adequately for Maina’s defence since he was coming into the matter afresh.

The lawyer, who said he was unable to meet his client at the Kuje Correctional Centre for a pre-trial conference, urged the court to adjourn the case in the interest of justice.

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Maina had in a motion on notice dated and filed on December 24, 2020, brought by his lawyer, Anayo Adibe, approached the court seeking a fresh bail due to his worsening health condition.

The judge had adjourned the hearing of the bail application until February 1 and equally fixed the continuation of trial for the same date.

However, at the resumed trial, Katu, who took over Maina’s legal team sought for an adjournment to enable him to prepare for his client’s defence.

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Fixes January 26 For Maina To Open Defence

 

The trial of a former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina continued in Abuja on Monday.

At the resumed trial, the judge, Justice Okon Abang ordered the embattled former pension boss to open his defence on January 26, 2021.

Maina’s lawyer, Anayo Adibe had earlier asked for an adjournment on the ground that he is unable to proceed with his no-case submission due to his inability to access the certified true copy of the court’s record of proceedings.

The application for adjournment was opposed by the prosecutor who insists that it is only a ploy to stall the trial.

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Justice Abang after listening to both parties foreclosed the right of Maina’s counsel to present a no-case submission as he orders the defendant to open his defence on the next adjourned of January 26 and 27, 2021.

Speaking after the court ruling, Adibe told Channels Television that the legal team is very ready to open defence.

“We are very ready to open our defence but it’s just that we have made an application for the opening of no-case submission to be made which has been refused and foreclosed. We are going to appeal that.

“However, we intend to continue our representation for the first defendant. Therefore, we are very ready to open our defence.”

The Federal Government is prosecuting Mr Maina on a 12-count charge of fraud and money laundering.

Court Remands Abdulrasheed Maina At Kuje Correctional Centre

 

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the remand of Abdulrasheed Maina at Kuje Correctional Centre pending the conclusion of his trial.

At the resumed trial on Friday, the counsel representing Maina, Adaji Abel formally withdrew and the counsel engaged by Mr Maina asked for a short adjournment to enable him to study the facts of the case.

Justice Abang granted the application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant who is presumed innocent is entitled to legal representation.

He subsequently adjourned the case to the 8th of December for a continuation of trial.

Maina’s trial had been holding in absentia after he jumped bail and ran off to the Niger Republic. A High Court in Abuja declared him wanted and subsequently he was arrested in Niamey.

The embattled former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) was extradited to Nigeria on Thursday to face his ongoing money laundering trial.

A witness on Thursday told an Abuja high court that Maina, bought a property worth $2 million in the Jabi area of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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The prosecution witness, Rouqayyah Ibrahim speaking before Justice Okong Abang stated that the defendant also acquired properties in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as well as the United States.

Ibrahim, who is the prosecution witness nine (PW9) and a detective of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), told the court that a prosecution witness, Adamu Modibbo, who testified to the EFCC regarding the said Jabi property, reportedly died of COVID-19 after his statement to the commission.

She added 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 Abdulrasheed also owns cleaning services, called Spotless and Flawless. We also recovered pay slips during our investigation,” Ibrahim told the court.

She 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.

The EFCC operative stated that the investigation showed that Colster Logistics, belonging to Maina, had a Fidelity Bank dollar account which had an inflow of over $400,000 from cash deposits as at the time the company was investigated.

She said over N500 million was discovered in the account of Kangolo Dynamic, within the years Maina was PRTT chairman.

According to the witness, in the course of the investigation, letters were written to the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), to verify the authenticity of the driver’s license used in opening some of the accounts; Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) for Maina’s declared assets; Federal Civil Service Commission, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF), and Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), to confirm if Maina was still a civil servant and for his payslips.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was also written to for the tax returns of Maina’s companies while the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) was written to for the registration documentation of the companies and their annual returns.

After all, the documents and written responses of the government agencies were tendered as exhibits, the prosecution counsel, M.S. Abubakar, prayed the court to foreclose the right of the defendants to respond to the admissibility of the documents.

In his ruling, Justice Abang upheld the prosecution’s prayer, noting that opportunity was offered to the defendants to be in court to oppose the admissibility of the document in evidence, but they failed to appear and also failed to engage counsel of their choice.

Maina Back In Court For Trial After Extradition From Niger

 

The trial of the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina has resumed in Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) ensured Maina was in the court having being extradited to Nigeria from the Niger Republic by the Interpol.

Mr. Maina who jumped bail before his re-arrest in Niamey, Niger is standing trial for alleged money laundering to the tune of two billion naira.

He was re-arrested after he jumped bail and was declared wanted by an Abuja High Court, however, while he was away, his trial went on in absentia.

A witness on Thursday told an Abuja high court that Maina, bought a property worth $2 million in the Jabi area of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The prosecution witness, Rouqayyah Ibrahim speaking before Justice Okong Abang stated that the defendant also acquired properties in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as well as the United States.

Ibrahim, who is the prosecution witness nine (PW9) and a detective of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), told the court that a prosecution witness, Adamu Modibbo, who testified to the EFCC regarding the said Jabi property, reportedly died of COVID-19 after his statement to the commission.

She added 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 Abdulrasheed also owns cleaning services, called Spotless and Flawless. We also recovered pay slips during our investigation,” Ibrahim told the court.

She 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.

The EFCC operative stated that the investigation showed that Colster Logistics, belonging to Maina, had a Fidelity Bank dollar account which had an inflow of over $400,000 from cash deposits as at the time the company was investigated.

She said over N500 million was discovered in the account of Kangolo Dynamic, within the years Maina was PRTT chairman.

According to the witness, in the course of the investigation, letters were written to the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), to verify the authenticity of the driver’s license used in opening some of the accounts; Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) for Maina’s declared assets; Federal Civil Service Commission, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF), and Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), to confirm if Maina was still a civil servant and for his payslips.

Also written was the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for the tax returns of his companies and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for the registration documentation of the companies and their annual returns.

After all the documents and written responses of the government agencies were tendered as exhibits, the prosecution counsel, M.S. Abubakar, prayed the court to foreclose the right of the defendants to respond to the admissibility of the documents.

In his ruling, Justice Abang upheld the prosecution’s prayer, noting that opportunity was offered to the defendants to be in court to oppose the admissibility of the document in evidence, but they failed to appear and also failed to engage counsel of their choice.