N2bn Pension Fraud: Appeal Court Upholds Maina’s Son’s Conviction on Money Laundering Charge
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the conviction of Faisal, son of former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina.
A Federal High Court, Abuja had last year found Faisal guilty of charges bordering on conspiracy and money laundering and subsequently handed him a 14 years jail.
Although Faisal who was sentenced in absentia, haven jumped his bail midway into his trial had appealed his conviction and sentencing.
But in their decision on the appeal yesterday, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, upheld the conviction, agreeing with the trial court that a prima facie case was established against the defendant.
The panel however reduced the five years (in relation to counts two and three) to three years, just it reduced that of the 14 years sentencing (in relation to count two) to seven years, on the grounds that the defendant was a first time offender.
According to the lead judgment which was delivered by Justice Ugochukwu Ogakwu, Faisal being a first time offender, ought not to have been handed the maximum punishment prescribed by the laws under which he was charged.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court had last October haven found Faisal guilty of the three count charge sentenced him to three years each in relation to counts one and three, while he sentenced him to 14 years on count two.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Faisal on a three-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N58.1million.
Justice Abang held that the EFCC proved beyond reasonable doubt that Faisal operated a fictitious bank account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA), through which his father, Abdulrasheed Maina, laundered the N58.1 million.
According to Abang, the funds deposited into the account that was operated in the name of “Alhaji Faisal Farm 2” were sequentially withdrawn by the convict and his father, between October 2013 and June 2019.
Justice Abang had held that the EFCC proved all the essential ingredients of the offences with which the convict was charged.
The judge ordered that Faisal, who was said to be 21 years old then, should be arrested anywhere he is found in Nigeria and remanded in any correctional centre to serve his jail term.
He added that, in the event the convict was traced to anywhere outside the shores of the country, the federal government, “shall legally or lawfully commence extradition process to bring him into the country to serve the jail term.”
The judge further ordered that the company, through which the fund was laundered – Alhaji Faisal Farm 2 – should be wound up, with funds in the accounts forfeited to the government.