The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday affirmed the eight years of jail time for Abdulrasheed Maina, a former chairperson of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), for stealing over N2 billion in pension funds.
The judge, Okon Abang, had in November 2021, jailed Mr Maina after convicting him and his company, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, on all the 12 counts of money laundering filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Affirming the Federal High Court’s decision on Friday, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal unanimously held that Mr Maina was not denied a fair hearing at the trial court as he alleged.
A member of the panel of justices, Elfreda Daudu-Williams, who read the lead judgement, held that it was Mr Maina who failed to take advantage of the opportunity offered him to defend himself.
“There was no denial of fair hearing as opportunity was given to the appellant to defend himself by the lower court.
“Given the foregoing, it behoves on the appellant to defend himself in the money laundering allegations,’’ Ms Daudu-Williams held.
Ms Daudu-Williams said that there was not enough evidence in the defence given by Mr Maina to prove that he did not commit the offence.
“The whole issue is resolved against the appellant and the appeal fails, this is the position of the court,’’ the judge said.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, had similarly, in November 2022 affirmed the conviction and 14 years of jail time for Mr Maina’s son, Faisal Maina, over money laundering charges involving diversion of pension funds.
The Federal High Court had sentenced Mr Maina to various jail terms ranging from three to eight years, which are to run concurrently.
The court sentenced the convict to three years in jail for count 1, five years for count 2, eight years for count 3, eight years for count 4, two years for count 5, five years for count 6, and eight years for count seven.
Justice Abang ordered that the terms of imprisonment shall run concurrently beginning from 25 October 2019, the date he was arraigned.
As for Common Input Property and Investment Ltd’s punishment, the judge ordered that it should be wound up and its assets forfeited to the federal government.
He also sentenced Mr Maina to three years in jail for count 8, five years for count 9, eight years for count 10, three years for count 11 and three years for count 12.
He held that Mr Maina stole over N2 billion belonging to pensioners, “most of whom have died without reaping the fruits of their labour”.
“In my view, it is pensioners’ funds the 1st defendant (Maina) stole, and some of the pensioners died out of frustration,” Mr Abang said.
Mr Maina, not satisfied with the judgement, approached the appellate court challenging it. But his appeal failed on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, EFCC alleged that Mr Maina used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts.
The anti-graft agency also said that he recruited his relatives and bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.
The EFCC arraigned him on a 12-count charge and alleged that sums of N300 million, N500 million and N1.5 billion were stolen from pensioners and deposited in the accounts.
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