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Fugitive ex-pension boss extradited, faces trial

fugitive former chairman of the disbanded Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, has been extradited to Nigeria, for continuation of trial on charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

Maina had jumped bail after failing four consecutive times to appear for continuation of his trial before the Federal High Court in Abuja. His action had forced the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, to order the remand of the Senator representing Borno South Senatorial district, Ali Ndume, who had stood as surety for his bail.

Further to that, the Force Headquarters had informed that through effective collaboration with the INTERPOL, the fugitive was arrested in Niamey, the Nigerien capital, on the night of Monday, November 30. Consequently, the Police, yesterday, extradited the former PRTT’s chairman back to the country to face the subsisting criminal trial. A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, said: “The Nigeria Police Force has extradited Maina to Nigeria from Niamey, Niger Republic, where he was arrested having been declared wanted by a court of competent jurisdiction over a pending criminal trial against him.

“Maina was arrested on 30th November, 2020 through the collaborative efforts of the operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, INTERPOL NCB, Abuja and their Nigerien counterpart. “The team from INTERPOL Nigeria, led by the Commissioner of Police INTERPOL, CP Garba Umar, having completed the necessary documentation requirements and other extradition processes, flew the wanted former pension boss, Maina into Nigeria aboard an NPF Jet 5N-HAR and landed at 1417Hrs (Nigerian time).”

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday admitted 18 sets of exhibits the prosecution tendered in evidence against Maina, who is facing a 12-count money laundering charge. The prosecution had alleged that the erstwhile pension reform boss used a bank account that was operated by his firm – Common Input Properties & Investment Limited – and laundered funds to the tune of about N2 billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja. The court was told that the defendant used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts, as well as recruited his relatives that were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.

Though the defendant jumped bail since September 29, the court gave the anti-graft agency the nod to continue the trial in his absence. At the resumed trial yesterday, the prosecution, through its PW-9, Mrs. Rouquayya Ibrahim, tendered the exhibits that included Maina’s assets declaration forms, pay slips, tax returns of all the companies linked to him, as well as 10 extra-judicial statements he made at the EFCC.

The exhibits were admitted and marked by trial Justice Okon Abang. Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, the witness, who is an investigator attached to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism, AML/CFT unit of the EFCC, told the court that a N500 million was discovered in the bank account of another company that was traced to the defendant, Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Services Limited. “The company had no existing business. It was a briefcase company and the sole operator of that account was Abdulrasheed Maina.

His name did not appear anywhere on the account documentation of the account, even though he was in control of all the deposits and withdrawals from that account,” Ibrahim said. The PW-9 further told the court that investigations revealed that Maina had, within the period he served as Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, operated a dollar account that had an inflow of over $460,000, “mostly in cash”. “During search, we discovered documents of properties linked to Maina and his family members, about 32 of them within Nigeria. We also recovered some hard discs and flash drives in his possession, which contained details of some of his investments in Dubai and the U.S.

“Particularly in Dubai, investigation revealed that his company, North Rich Properties, owned over 50 cars that were used for transport business. “Investigation also revealed that he owns a Villa in a highbrow area in Dubai. His wife, Laila, also owns a cleaning services company called Spotless & Flawless,” she said. The witness said the agency found out that the expension boss paid $2 million cash for one of the houses he acquired within the Jabi District of Abuja.

In a related development, relying on section 359(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, the court equally granted application counsel to Maina’s company, Adeola Adedipe, filed to withdraw from the case.

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