Money Laundering: Court Begins Trial of ex-Pension Boss Maina, in Absentia

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, continued the trial of the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reforms Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, in his absence.

Justice Okon Abang gave a go-ahead to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to tender more evidence against Maina, whose decision to jump bail, led the court to remand his surety, Ndume 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 the account of the firm in laundering funds to the tune of about 2 Billion, a 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 500 Million bail bond on Maina’s head.

It directed that proceed from the sold property 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, Mr 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.

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