By Alex Enumah
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday closed its case after its ninth prosecution witness concluded her testimony in the N2bn money laundering trial of a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Maina told the court that he had no case to answer in the allegations levied against him by the EFCC.
Maina, who told Justice Okon Abang shortly after the EFCC, through its counsel, Farouk Abdullah, closed its case, said he would be filing a no-case submission.
Rouqayya Ibrahim, an EFCC investigator, who started testifying as the ninth prosecution witnesses on November 29, 2020, closed her evidence after she was cross-examined by Maina’s lawyer, Anayo Adibe, on Wednesday.
Maina’s co-defendant, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, a firm linked to him, was not represented by any lawyer as was the case since trial resumed on September 29, 2020.
Justice Okon Abang ruled that the second defendant and its lawyer had abandoned proceedings.
He, therefore, made an order discharging the witness from the witness box order foreclosing the company’s right to cross-examine the ninth prosecution witness.
Shortly thereafter, EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Faruk Abdullah, informed the judge of the prosecution’s decision to close its case.
Responding, Maina’s lawyer, Adibe, said his client, in the belief that the EFCC failed to make a prima facie case warranting him to put up a defence, would file a no-case submission for the dismissal of the charges.
Adibe, however, noted that there was no provision in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 stipulating the procedure for the filing of the no-case submission.
Justice Abang thereby ordered the defence lawyer to address the court on his client’s no-case submission on Thursday.
He ruled, “The prosecution has closed its case today. It is for the defence to open its case. The court had earlier ruled that the case would proceed in his absence. But he is here today. The defendant is entitled to be heard.
“The defendant has elected to present a no-case submission. It is within his legal right to do so, and the court cannot question it.
“The defendant’s counsel has said there is no provision for the filing of no-case submission in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
“Therefore it is hereby ordered that parties shall address the court orally on the defendant’s no-case submission.”
He then adjourned the case till Thursday.
Maina, a former Chairman of the then Pension Reform Task Team, along with his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, is being prosecuted by the EFCC on money laundering charges involving the sum of N2bn of pensioners’ fund.
The prosecution through its nine witnesses and documents tendered as exhibits alleged that Maina siphoned pensioners’ funds using bank accounts registered in family members’ names without their knowledge and payments to various companies for non-existing contracts.
Three of the nine prosecuting witnesses called by the EFCC to testify against Maina in the case were his younger siblings.
The defendant’s siblings brought to court as prosecution witnesses are, Mrs. Nafisat Aliyu, Fatima Abdullahi, and
Earlier on Wednesday, the ninth prosecution witness, Ibrahim, testified that Maina used a forged driving licence name to open a bank account under the name, Dr Abdullai Faisal.
She said the account, which she had told the court was used in siphoning pension funds, had a total inflow of over N1.5bn.
She said, “We wrote to the Federal Road Safety Corps and they told us that the driving licence used to open the account was forged.
“The account, Abdullai Faisal had a total inflow of N1,571,842,090.”
She added, “The driving licences used to open the account of Common Input Nigeria Limited with UBA using the name of Mrs Fatiam Samaila were not authentic as per the response of FRSC.
“The one used in opening Drew Construction with Fidelity Bank using the name of Fatima Aliyu is also not authentic.”
Under cross-examination by defence counsel, Ibrahim said although she was not a handwriting expert, she had been so familiar with Maina’s signature in the course of investigating the case to know that the signatures appearing on the accounts of “briefcase” companies opened by him and the accounts of individuals he registered in others’ names without their knowledge were his.