Alleged Pension Fraud: EFCC accuses Maina of plotting to assassinate witnesses, lawyers

Abdulrasheed maina
Former head of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina. [Photo credit: juliana taiwo - WordPress.com]

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has alleged that a former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, planned to assassinate prosecution lawyers in the ongoing trial.

An EFCC lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, who made the allegation, also alleged that Mr Maina plotted to assassinate the EFCC witnesses and officials of Nigerian Correctional Services to escape from custody.

The anti-graft agency stated this in a Motion on Notice dated March 3, seeking the revocation of Mr Maina’s bail.

Giving the grounds on why Mr Maina’s bail should be cancelled, Mr Abubakar said “that the first defendant/respondent who was granted bail by the court since 26th November 2019 (though still in custody) has perfected plans to assassinate prosecution witnesses and counsel in this matter.

“That the 1st defendant/respondent perfected plans to escape from custody and abscond; and in the process assassinate Nigerian Correctional Service officials attached to him.”

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how on January 28, Justice Okon Abang reduced the bail bond of the former PRTT chairman from N1billion to N500 million.

Mr Maina had on January 13 told the court that he could not meet the stringent conditions of the bail granted him in November.

Not able to meet the said adjusted bail conditions, Mr Maina in an application dated February 10 further asked the court to further vary the bail conditions.

But in the federal government’s application to cancel Mr Maina’s bail, Mr Abubakar said that there was “need to protect the witnesses, counsel and officers by keeping the first defendant/respondent in custody during the pendency of this criminal matter as well as provide additional/ maximum security around him while in custody pending the conclusion of the trial.

“That when the first defendant/respondent was arrested preparatory to his arraignment before this court, his son who was with him was found to be in illegal possession of a firearm and the son, Faisal, physically attacked the security officers arresting his father to resist the arrest or free his father.

“That consequent to the above, Faisal Maina is currently being prosecuted by the Nigeria Police for the offences stated in the ground (d) above,” Mr Abubakar added.

However, Mr Maina’s lawyer, Joe Gadzama, asked for a brief adjournment, to enable him to respond to the prosecution’s objection.

The senior lawyer also asked the court to hear the two applications together on the next adjourned date.

But the prosecution insisted that his application was ripe for hearing since it was listed for the day.

In a short ruling, Justice Abang said that it was convenient for the court to take the application seeking to further vary the bail conditions and the application seeking to revoke the bail together since they were related to the liberty of Mr Maina, who was still in detention.

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He adjourned to March 16, to take the arguments of the parties in the suit.

Mr Maina is accused of diverting N100 billion pension funds and is facing trial for alleged money laundering. He is being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 12-count charge and is also accused of operating fictitious accounts and carrying out other fraudulent activities.

The former PRTT chairman, who was in hiding for almost two years, was arrested by the State Security Service last year.

The SSS handed over Mr Maina to the EFCC, which had declared him wanted for over a year.

His son, Faisal, who was arrested alongside the father in September, is accused of operating an account he used to divert various sums of money, including N58 million.

The two men were arraigned by the EFCC on October 25 on separate charges. They pleaded not guilty.



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