The embattled former pension chief, Abdulrasheed Maina, bought two houses in Abuja for $3.4 million and paid for the houses in cash, a witness has told the court.
The witness, Ruqqayah Ibrahim, an investigator with the anti-crime agency, EFCC, said this Tuesday while testifying against the former pension chief.
Ms Ibrahim is the EFCC’s 9th witness in its corruption trial of Mr Maina who was the head of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT).
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Maina’s counsel, Anayo Adibe, on Tuesday, asked the court for an adjournment of the case, stating that he needed more time to study the case.
The court refused the request after it was opposed by the EFCC counsel.
The court also ordered that the trial should continue.
At the continuation of the trial, Ms Ibrahim narrated what the EFCC’s investigations revealed about Mr Maina including two accounts he opened at Fidelity Bank and UBA.
“Due diligence was not done in opening the accounts and in the operations of the accounts; in both instances, both Fidelity and UBA, the accounts officers being relatives of the first defendants,” she said.
She said the account officers in both banks helped Mr Maina perpetrate the alleged frauds for which he is being prosecuted.
“In Fidelity, it was his brother Khalid Biu and in UBA, his sister-in-law, induced and allowed the identity of the first defendant to be concealed, which permitted him to operate the accounts where his name, signatures, photograph does not appear on the account opening packages but the pictures and information of his sisters used by the defendant even though he was signing all payments instructions in all the accounts using their identity.
“Our investigation was able to link Abdulrasheed Maina with the accounts through his signatures that appear in some of the accounts, though he was using different accounts and different banks and his signature that he used in his extrajudicial statements with the EFCC.
“We were able to link him with the accounts through transactions between the accounts particularly at Fidelity Bank where he received payments with his own personal accounts with Fidelity. His email address was also discovered to be linked to some of the accounts.”
“Our investigation revealed that all the accounts mentioned, both Fidelity and UBA, were funded with proceeds of crime and laundered by the defendant. We were able to establish that the defendant while the chairman of the 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 service, where they were paid money into their accounts for non-existent biometric contracts, non-collective existent allowances and other illegal payments which were withdrawn cash, sometimes converted into foreign currency and handed over to him through people chosen by him, particularly one Anne Igwe who previously stood trial with him in court. Two others who also received payment on his behalf are also standing trial.
“We also discovered that some of the funds, majority of which were 90 per cent cash deposits into the accounts, were equally withdrawn in cash and laundered by the defendant. Some of those funds were converted to dollars and handed over to the defendant even while he had absconded to Dubai.
“Our investigation also revealed an instance where Imeseke, his account officer with Fidelity bank, handed over cash to Maro Bashir for onward delivery to Abdulrasheed Maina. This money was in foreign currency, my Lord.
“We also discovered that the accounts officers actively deposited huge sums of money, sometimes millions of naira daily of structured payments into their accounts, the source of which were unknown to them but was brought in sometimes by the defendant personally in the case of Maro Bashir and other individuals, who may have been sent by other officials to send money to the account officials.”
Buying Houses In Cash
The witness then spoke about how Mr Maina, who was rearrested and brought back to Nigeria last week having jumped bail and fled to Niger republic, bought the two Abuja houses.
“We discovered that the defendant purchased two houses. One in Jabi that he bought in the name of Common Input for $2 million cash from Adamu Modibbo, now deceased, and the other houses in Life Camp purchased in the name of one Dr Khalid Faisan and was paid for in cash of $1.4 million to the buyer by Khalid Biu.
“To be able to really understand what happened, my lord, we carried out a concealed income analysis of the defendant. The reason for this was for one, to determine if the defendant or his associated companies had concealed income that was not accounted for and the second reason was to determine if the defendant was benefiting or receiving money from that concealed income which came from illegitimate sources.
“The result of this was that we were able to arrive at the net worth of the defendant, we asked him to fill and assert declaration form with the EFCC which revealed his assets liabilities and naturally covered other known sources of income.
“Being a civil servant for the period under which this investigation was carried out, we also relied on his payslips to determine his genuine source of income regarding all the companies linked to him. We wrote to CAC & FIRS to be able to establish if at all the companies were involved in any business and our findings revealed that these companies were merely briefcase companies and were not involved in any business, let alone a legitimate one, even though the collective turn over in their accounts was over almost N3 billion.
“Both CAC and FIRS confirmed that no taxes were filed or paid by these companies and with CAC no statement of affairs of the company were filed. Regarding his known income, which is his salary, we discovered that his last payment, which was in February 2013 was N256,000.
“Part of the concealed income analysis we did was that should the defendant have earned or was paid this sum per month, for 35 years as a civil servant without spending a single kobo of the salary, he would he would have only received N109 million for the 35 years without spending a single kobo.
“And we compared that with the result of our concealed income and net worth analysis and discovered that he has an estimate of at least N3 billion of known income from illegitimate source,” the witness added.
Ms Ibrahim said Mr Adamu, before his demise, gave statements to the EFCC in Exhibit E17, in a statement made on January 2, 2016.
“Adamu is the previous owner of the Jabi house, who is now deceased, and we invited him to the EFCC regarding the house he sold to Common Input and his statement on the January 2016 said that ‘I bought plot 30 cadastral zone b4 no 10 Alisi musa street Jabi abuja. I sold the house to a company whose name I cannot readily remember for the price of N340 million. I was paid by the company in dollars cash at the rate prevailing at the time of the transaction’.
‘I hereby confirm that the signatures shown to me on the deed of assignment and contract of sale by the EFCC officer, Mohammed Goje, is my own signature. The deed of assignment and contract of sale are in respect of the sale of my former house of No. 10, Alisi Musa Street, Jabi to Common Input Properties and Investment Limited,” she quoted the late Mr Adamu as saying.
The witness they provided more outcomes of their investigation of Mr Maina’s finances.
“On the account opening package of Fidelity Bank of Drew Investment in exhibit D3, the signature of the signature for the account, one Fatima Aliyu, which bears the picture of his sister, Fatima Abdullahi, is the same with the signature that appears in the deed of assignment between Adamu Modibbo of Common Input in Exhibit E11.
“It is also the same signature that appears on the deed of assignment between Albania Ali Sanni and Dr Abdullahi Faisal. Exhibit D7 is the same as the signature of one Mr Abdul Abdullahi and the account officer Toyin Imeseke and his brother, both confirmed that the both signatures belong to Abdulrasheed Maina.
“It is also the same signature that appears in Common Input Property and Investment Limited Exhibit A33 & A34 signing as Fatima Sama’ila a director.
“Fatima Sama’ila is his sister, the same Fatima Abdullahi (PW2). We also confirmed that Maro Bashir, the account officer (PW1), whose signature it was that appeared on the account package of Common Input and who signed the checks that appeared as Fatima Abdullahi and it was confirmed that it was Abdulrasheed Maina.
“We also requested from the bank in UBA & Fidelity to confirm to us or otherwise if any of the debit instruments or checks used in the account were ever rejected on account of inconsistent signature and their response was negative confirming that it was Abdulrasheed Maina that was signing all the checks used and debit instruments.
Also, “The total inflow into the account is N55,055,500, all cash deposits,” Ms Ibrahim said.
Furthermore, “No. 37B Kings Road off Gambole street Borno State is the address used by Abdulrasheed Maina in some of his documentations. Exhibit D4 is the account statement of Fidelity Bank of Cluster Logistics.”
“The account opening package of Cluster Logistics with Fidelity Bank on a letter headed paper of the company, for change of signatory, bears the signature of one Abubakar Mustapha.
“However, this same signature is the same signature that appears on the extrajudicial statement of Abdulrasheed Maina in Exhibit E15 on 2nd October 2019 is the same signature that appears on the account opening package of Crostor Logistics Limited with Fidelity Bank signing as Abubakar Mustapha.
“In the same Exhibit D4 in the statement of account of the company with Fidelity Bank on the 14th December 2011, there was a transfer from this account to Nafisatu Aliu Yeldu. It is the same account the defendant was operating as Nafisatu Yeldu.
“In the same account, there was a transfer to the Fidelity Bank account called Dr Abdullahi Faisal from this same account and there was also payment from Abdullahi Faisal into the account as well.
“There were several other transactions between Cluster Logistics, Nafisatu Yeldu and Dr. Abdullahi Faisal.
“Look at transactions of 21st October 2014, there is a transfer of N3 million from Nafisatu Aliu. It’s the other account she used for Abdulrasheed Maina with Fidelity.
“On 28th October 2019 there was a transfer of three million to Nafisatu in favor of Cluster Logistics.”
The judge adjourned the matter till December 9, 2020.
Credit: PREMIUM TIMES