….witness that sold $2m Abuja property to Defendant dead, EFCC tells court
…..as Judge grants lawyer’s request to withdraw from case
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, admitted 18 sets of exhibits the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, tendered in evidence against the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is facing a 12-count money laundering charge.
EFCC 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 N2billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.
It told the court 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 channeled.
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 proceedings in the matter on Thursday, the Prosecution, through its ninth witness, PW-9, Mrs. Rouquayya lbrahim, 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, Mr. 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 N500m 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”.
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 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 US.
“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”.
The witness said the agency found out that the ex-Pension reform boss paid $2million cash for one of the houses he acquired within the Jabi District of Abuja.
Mrs. lbrahim however regretted that the former owner of the property, Adamu Modibbo, died after he made statements to the EFCC.
“Modibbo was a witness we invited regarding a property in Jabi that Maina purchased for $2million cash.
“He came and volunteered his statement. Unfortunately, we discovered that he passed away few months ago.
“He died during this COVID-19 period”, the witness added.
Meanwhile, relying on section 359(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, the court, on Thursday, granted application counsel to Maina’s company, Adeola Adedipe, filed to withdraw from the case.
Adedipe, who earlier represented the 2nd Defendant, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited, said he was no longer willing to continue in the matter.
The court however said it would not take cognizance of a a similar application that was filed by Maina’s team of lawyers led by Chief J. K. Gadzama, SAN, since none of them was present to move the application.
“So far as this court is concerned, they abandoned the proceedings”, Justice Abang held.
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