After two years of criminal trial of former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, a Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday found him guilty of money laundering allegations and subsequently sentenced him to eight years custody at the Nigerian Correctional Service Center in Kuje, Abuja.
Maina had been standing trial before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court since 2019, when he was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Although he had pleaded not guilty to all 12-count charge filed against him, the court however after listening to prosecution witnesses as well as going through documents tendered against Maina held that the defendant was guilty of laundering over N2 billion funds belonging to pensioners in the country.
Convicted alongside the former pension task team boss was his company, Common Input Property and Investment Limited.
Maina and the firm are to forfeit to the federal government about N2.1 billion traced to their bank accounts and the company would thereafter be wound up.
While one of the accounts had cash deposits of N300 million, the other two contained N500 million, and N1.5 billion respectively.
According to the judge, there was evidence that Maina concealed his true identity as a signatory to the accounts in banks – by using the identity of his family members without their knowledge.
The court further observed that Maina’s salaries and emoluments in all his years as a civil servant could not amount to the monies in the said accounts.
In convicting Maina of money laundering, the judge held that Maina ran foul of the law when he purchased a property in Abuja, with cash, in the sum of $1.4 million, which was above the statutory threshold of N5 million and without passing through a financial institution.
Other properties the judge held should be forfeited to the federal government included Maina’s houses at Life Camp and Jabi Districts of Abuja, a bulletproof car and a BMW 5 series that were found at the premises of Maina.
According to the judgment the properties should be auctioned and the proceeds given to the federal government.
Justice Abang who stated that the offences for which Maina was convicted attracted a maximum sentence of 14 years, however handed him eight years based on Maina’s plea to be lenient in his sentencing.
The sentencing which would run concurrently, takes effect from October 25, 2019, which is the date of arraignment.
Meanwhile, a mild drama occurred outside the court shortly after the sentencing of Maina.
Operatives of the EFCC had engaged in an altercation with officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service over the custody of Maina.
The personnel from the Correctional Service, who were in court where already on standby to take Maina into custody in line with the judgment but were however resisted by EFCC operatives who insisted that Maina must go in their vehicle.
In the end however, officials of the Correctional Service finally had their way and took Maina away in their vehicle.
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.
Recall that Maina had jumped his bail and was re-arrested and brought to continue his trial which was ongoing in his absence.