By Kingsley Nwezeh
The ninth prosecution witness (PW9), Rouqayyah Ibrahim, a detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday December 8, continued her testimony before Justice Okong Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, revealing how former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, received diverted funds in dollars even while he was a fugitive in Dubai, and operated companies with N3 billion net worth that engaged in nothing.
“We discovered that some of the funds, of which over 90 per cent were cash payment and deposits into the accounts were withdrawn in cash and laundered by the defendant. Some of these funds were converted to dollars and handed over to the defendant even while he had absconded to Dubai”, the witness said.
The witness also disclosed that the defendant purchased two houses in Abuja, at the cost of $3.4 million, one in Jabi, in the name of Common Input for $2million cash from one Adamu Modibbo (now late), using his account officer, Khalid Biu to pay.
The other, she disclosed was purchased in the name of one Dr. Abdullahi Faisal at the cost of $1.4million also paid in cash in the name of Khalid Biu.
“To be able to understand what really happened, we carried out a discreet investigation on the defendant, the reason for this, was to determine if the defendant or his associates companies had concealed incomes that were not accounted for and to determine if the defendant was benefitting or receiving money from that concealed income”, she said.
Through the investigations, the EFCC, she said, discovered that Maina’s net worth ran contrary to his declared assets.
“We were able to established that the defendant while being the Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, recruited staff of the Head of Service, whereby he requested them to provide accounts, some personal, some corporate, including persons who were not staff of the Head of Service and money was paid into the accounts for non-existent biometric contracts, non-existent collective allowances and other illegal payments, which were later withdrawn by the individuals after converting the sums to foreign currency before handing the monies over to Maina,” she said.
The witness also told the court that there were instances in which Toyin Meseke, the defendant’s account officer in Fidelity Bank handed over cash in foreign currency to Mairo Bashir, (PW1) for delivery to Maina, stating that her team discovered that on daily basis, the account officers were receiving huge sums of structured payments into the Maina’s accounts running into millions of naira.
The sources of the funds, she stated were unknown to the account officers but that in some cases the sums were brought personally by the defendant, or Mairo Bashir and other individuals sent by the defendant to deliver the sums in cash, noting that due diligence was not applied in opening of the accounts domiciled in Fidelity Bank, UBA and Kangolo Dynamics’ accounts, operated by Maina, which she said were funded with proceeds of crime by the defendant.
The EFCC, she further disclosed wrote to Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, concerning all the companies linked to Maina to be able to establish if the companies were indeed involved in any business, which yielded that the companies engaged in nothing.
“Our findings revealed that these companies were mere briefcase companies and were not involved in any business, let alone a legitimate one, even though the collective turnover in their accounts were almost N3 billion. Both CAC and FIRS confirmed. And FIRS said no taxes were paid by these companies,” she said, according to an EFCC statement.
The witness further disclosed that Maina’s pay slip as a civil servant, showed that his last payment, which was in February 2013 was N256,000 and that part of the concealed income analysis, carried out by the EFCC showed that at N256,000, per month, Maina for 35 years as a civil servant, would have saved only over N109 million without spending a single kobo out of the salary.
“When we compared that with the results of our concealed income and net worth analysis, we discovered that he had an estimate of at least N3 billion of unknown income from illegitimate sources”, she said.
Defence counsel, Anayo Adibe, asked the court for a date to study the case but the judge dismissed the application and adjourned the matter till today for continuation of trial.