A federal high court in Abuja has convicted Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), on charges of money laundering.
In 2019, Maina was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) — but he pleaded not guilty to a 12-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.
Delivering the judgment on Monday, Okon Abang, trial judge, held that Maina stole over N2 billion belonging to pensioners, “most of whom have died without reaping the fruits of their labour”.
The judge said the former PRTT chairman is guilty of concealing his true identity as a signatory to accounts opened in two banks – UBA and Fidelity bank – by using the identity of his family members without their knowledge.
The accounts had cash deposits of N300 million, N500 million, and N1.5 billion.
He said throughout Maina’s service as a civil servant, his salary and emoluments could not amount to the monies in these accounts.
The court also found Maina guilty of purchasing a property in Abuja, with cash, in the sum of $1.4 million, which is above the statutory threshold of N5 million and without passing through a financial institution.
THE SENTENCING & PENALTY
Abang found the accused guilty on all 12 counts and sentenced him to eight years imprisonment.
The judge said although the law made provision for a maximum sentence of 14 years, he was moved by Maina’s plea of allocutus — a plea made to the court by a defendant who has been found guilty prior to being sentenced.
The judge held that the sentence would run concurrently, with effect from October 25, 2019, which is the date of arraignment.
The court ordered Maina and his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, to forfeit about N2.1 billion traced to their bank accounts to the federal government, after which the company should be wound up.
Also, the court ordered that Maina’s properties at Life Camp and Jabi Districts of Abuja should be forfeited to the government.
The convict’s bulletproof car and a BMW 5 series vehicle that was found at the premises of the convict would also be auctioned and the proceeds forfeited to the government.
The same judge had in October sentenced Faisal, Maina’s son who is at large, to seven years imprisonment on a three-count charge bordering on money laundering.
THE TRIAL OF MAINA
In November 2020, a federal high court in Abuja had started the trial of Maina in absentia after he fled the country while his travel documents were deposited in court.
Maina was later was arrested in Niger Republic where he had taken refuge and was extradited to Nigeria on December 3, 2020. By jumping bail, Ali Ndume, a serving senator who stood as his surety, was arrested.
On December 12, 2020, Maina collapsed while sitting beside the defendant’s dock during a court sitting.
He subsequently applied for bail, but the request was denied and he was remanded in prison until the end of his trial.