Court Begins Money Laundering Trial Of Former Pension Boss, Maina In Absentia
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, continued to try the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, in his absence.
Okon Abang, the trial justice, gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the nod to tender more evidence against Maina, whose decision to jump bail, led the court to remand his surety in Kuje Correctional Center.
Maina is facing a 12-count money laundering charge alongside a firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited.
EFCC alleged that he used account of the firm and laundered funds to the tune of about N2billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.
The court had in a ruling on Monday, remanded the Senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, who stood surety for the former pension reform boss, in custody, following his inability to explain the whereabouts of the Defendant.
It held that Ndume should remain in detention pending when his Abuja property is sold to raise the N500million bail bond on Maina’s head.
It directed that proceed from the sold property should be paid into the federation account. Alternatively, the court asked Ndume to produce Maina for the continuation of his trial.
Meanwhile, Maina, who had since September 19, failed to attend his trial, was also absent in court at the resumed proceedings in the matter on Tuesday.
Likewise, none of his lawyers entered appearance before the court.
Owing to the development, counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Abubakar, urged the court to foreclose Maina’s right to continue to cross-examine the sixth prosecution witness, PW-6, who was in the witness box before the Defendant jumped bail.
Justice Abang granted the request, even as he okayed the seventh witness, Sani Ali, to give evidence in the matter and tender exhibit against the Defendants.
The court held that the Defendants, by their absence, waived their right to either cross-examine the witnesses or to challenge exhibits tendered by the prosecution.
EFCC had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, alleged that the ex-Pension boss 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 channelled.