The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has claimed the former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, is not a responsible citizen but a fugitive of law.
The EFCC accused him of stealing allegedly about N3billion pensioners’ fund in what it described as an elaborate grand scam.
The EFCC said Maina is a citizen of the United States and a naturalised resident of the UAE with an expired Nigerian passport but has always sneaked into the country (Nigeria) at night through the borders with Niger in Sokoto and Katsina.
The EFCC stated this in a counter affidavit it filed against the bail application by Maina, who is being tried before a Federal High Court in Abuja on money laundering related charges.
It prayed the court to reject Maina’s bail request because it took a lot of efforts for security agents to arrest him after fleeing for about seven years.
The EFCC said if granted bail, Maina, with the huge funds at his disposal, would compromise its witnesses, some of whom are his blood relations and family members.
It added: “The evidence contained in the proof of evidence consisting of four bundles of about 1800 pages, filed in this case, discloses very strong evidence against the 1st defendant/applicant.
“The total amount involved in the charge before this court and alleged to have been siphoned from pension funds and illegally acquired by the 1st defendant/applicant is about N3billion naira.
“The EFCC has been involved in the investigation of the 1st defendant/applicant and his cohorts in a grand Pension Scam since 2012 to date$
“The 1st defendant/applicant is not a responsible citizen, rather he has been a fugitive of law for seven years until his eventual arrest on 30th September, 2019 when he was arrested following a joint operation of Secret Security Service (DSS).
“Since 27th March, 2013, Justice Adamu Bello (now retired) of this honourable court in the judgment in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/65/2013 admonished the 1st defendant/ applicant to voluntarily submit himself for investigation on the subject matter of the present charge; but the 1st defendant/applicant deliberately refused to heed the court’s admonition until the long arm of the law caught him up almost six years later.
“Again on 31th January, 2019, this court court presided over by Justice F.O.G. Ogunbanjo reiterated and reaffirmed this court’s advice to the 1st defendant/applicant ‘to submit himself voluntarily to the investigation by the EFCC in order to show that he respects constituted authorities.’
“The 1st defendant/applicant still refused to submit himself to EFCC, treating this Court with contempt, until his arrest.
“Our investigations revealed that in addition to being a Nigerian citizen, the 1st defendant/applicant is also a citizen of the United States of America (USA) and a naturalized resident of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Further to the foregoing, our investigation reveals that the 1st defendant/applicant’s wife Laila Abdulrasheed Maina is also a citizen of the United States of America (USA) and a naturalized resident of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Our investigation also revealed that the 1st defendant/applicant’s Nigerian passport has expired long time ago and he has relocated to Dubai, UAE with his wife and children, who are equally American citizens, all of them using their American passports.
“Owing to the expiration of his passport and deliberate efforts to avoid being apprehended, the 1st defendant/applicant had always come into Nigeria (during his stay abroad as fugitive) by road, dubiously sneaking in the middle of the night through Niger Republic and alternating the routes through Katsina/Sokoto borders with Niger Republic.
“Part of the 1st defendant/applicant’s desperate plans to take to flight and leave the shores of Nigeria as soon as he is released on bail, is the deliberate and malicious refusal to surrender his American passport to the EFCC operatives blatantly lying that the passport has expired and is currently with the American Embassy for the purpose of renewal.
“It was found that the American passport of 1st defendant/applicant is valid and will only expire in 2022.
“The 1st defendant/applicant will surely and definitely jump bail if granted and would not make himself available for trial, whether or not he is allowed to travel abroad before the conclusion of his trial; and that in the event he travels abroad through Niger Republic he may be arrested there for other crimes, thereby stalling his present trial before this court.
“With huge financial and material resources at his disposal, the 1st defendant/applicant is likely to reach out to some of the witnesses named in the proof of evidence and also use his connections to intimidate, influence, arm-twist and cow the witnesses (some of _ whom are his blood relations and he is their benefactor) into submission and thereby prejudice his trial.
“Many Nigerians, especially pensioners and their dependents as well as families of deceased pensioners, whose funds the 1st defendant/applicant allegedly stole (and laundered through acquisition of choice properties across the country and other parts of the world living in Opulence with his family), are very angry with the 1st defendant applicant.
“It is in his best interest to be kept in protective custody until the final determination of the charge against him.
The EFCC, while faulting Maina’s claim to ill-health, the EFCC to the court that the offences for which he is being tried do not provide for options of fine or non-custodial sentence with or without plea bargain.
It spoke about another charged pending against him before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), “consisting of nine counts of receiving stolen property each punishable . with imprisonment for 14 years without option of fine.”
On Tuesday, Maina was absent in court. The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang rejected the request by Maina’s lawyer, Francis Oronsaye for an adjournment. The judge proceeded to hear his (Main’s) bail application and adjourned until November 7 (Thursday) for ruling.
Earlier, an officer of the Nigeria Correctional Service from the Kuje prison, tendered a medical report before the court, claiming that Maina was seriously sick.
The said medical report, signed by Dr. Idowu Ajayi, stated that Maina was receiving medical attention at in the prison, where he is currently being held.