A defence witness in the trial of the chairperson of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, on Thursday, accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of mismanaging 222 sets of property handed over to it by the PRTT.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ngozika Ihuoma, a management consultant, owns Crincad & Cari Nigeria Ltd which was one time engaged by the Mr Maina-led PRTT for consultancy services.
Mr Ihuoma, who was led in evidence by Mr Maina’s lawyer, Adeola Olawale, also told the court how a renowned lawyer allegedly acquired one of the sets of property from the EFCC even while the property was still a subject of litigation.
Okon Abang, the trial judge, had on February 25, ordered Mr Maina to open his defence in his ongoing trial on N2 billion money laundering charges filed against him by the EFCC.
Although Mr Maina had intended to raise a no-case submission, the judge on December 21, foreclosed his right to do so as a result of his tardiness.
Testifying in defence of Mr Maina on Thursday, Mr Ihuoma said the PRTT wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari on assumption of office in 2015 about its willingness to make available intelligence that would lead to the recovery of N3 trillion hidden in some undisclosed accounts in some banks.
Maina’s meeting with AGF, NSA
The witness said following the PRTT’s memo to the President, Mr Maina met with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, in January 2016.
PREMIUM TIMES had in an exclusive report in October 2017 exposed the secret reinstatement of then dismissed and wanted Mr Maina through the support of Mr Malami.
The PREMIUM TIMES report named Mr Ihuoma as part of an image-making press conference held for Mr Maina after the emergence of Mr Buhari as President in 2015.
Testifying on Thursday, Mr Ihuoma said, “By January 2016, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the National Security Adviser (NSA) met with Maina in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE).
“After the meeting in Dubai, Maina gave the delegation intelligence report that led to the recovery of N1.3 trillion out of the N3 trillion promised to recover.
“The money was reported to the Senate Committee that investigated Maina’s reinstatement back to the civil service in 2017.”
‘Mismanagement of 222 sets of property’
The witness said the PRTT also petitioned the Senate in respect of 222 sets of choice property valued at N1.63 trillion.
He alleged that the assets were mismanaged by the EFCC after they were handed over to it.
He said, “Equally, the task team petitioned the Senate on the need to revisit the 7th Assembly Joint Committee that its report was quashed by the Federal High Court in view of the fact that the 222 choice property valued at N1.63 trillion that was handed over to the EFCC have started being mismanaged.
“One of the property in question located at No 42, Gana Street, Maitama, had been illegally acquired by a renowned lawyer while the property was still subject to litigation,” he said.
He said the EFCC should be made to account for the 222 property, “including the ones sold to the lawyer which was grossly under-valued from N6 billion in 2011 and sold to him in 2015 at N1 billion.
“We believe that the task team stood by her integrity and accountability, not minding the persecution by the EFCC before this honourable court.”
‘Magu denied receiving property from PRTT’
Mr Ihuoma said former acting chairperson of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, denied receiving the 222 sets of property from the PRTT when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee that investigated the reinstatement of Mr Maina.
He added that Mr Magu also denied that EFCC was a member of PRTT.
The witness said through his company, he petitioned Malami, telling him that Mr Magu lied on oath before the House by denying that the EFCC was not a member of the task team contrary to the instrument establishing the PRTT through a letter from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
Ayo Salami panel’s link
Mr Ihumoa said his petition “led to Malami petitioning Mr President and demanding that EFCC should account for the 222 property valued at 1.63 trillion which eventually led to the setting up of Justice Ayo Salami Judicial Commission of Inquiry.”
He added, “Magu admitted before Salami that he shared and allocated most of these property to most of his friends, associates, colleagues under some presidential directives but failed to make available to the commission the evidence of that presidential directives.”
‘Maina’s intelligence report’
The witness said Mr Maina gave intelligence report to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) of a plan to siphon N35 billion from the Head of Service Pension Office.
He said the commission questioned the former HoS, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita and five other management committee members.
He said ICPC came up with its report and was ready to prosecute the matter.
He also said Mr Maina, in March , 2013, gave an intelligence report to the then Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and EFCC leading to the mop up of N15 billion from Customs, Immigration, Prison Pension Office (CIPO).
‘Maina singled out for sacking’
Mr Ihuoma said Mr Maina was the only member of PRTT that was sacked.
He told the court that B. G. Kaigama, who served on the team, “remains till today, a full director and second in command in Pension Transition Arrangement Department (PTAD).”
He added, “G.T Idris, who represented ICPC is now at NIPSS undergoing a one year course leading to his promotion to a rank of full commissioner of police.
“Even Winifred Oyo-Ita who managed the Head of Service Pension Office as interim management committee became the Head of Service (HoS) of Federation where she used that office to stop Mr Maina’s reinstatement since 2017.”
The witness also said Ibrahim Larmode, who was a member of the team as chair of the EFCC, was also promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG).
‘Maina should be reinstated’
Mr Ihuoma called for Mr Maina’s reinstatement into the federal civil service.
He said, “We stand to say that Maina deserves to be reinstated back as approved by the Federal Civil Service Commission in 2017 and if possible, in line with the recommendations of the House of Representatives to the then President Jonathan, be made to return to service and assist in cleaning up the pension matters now that the issue of pension is going haywire again.
“We believe this trial is not in the interest of pension reformed task team which EFCC was a member.”
The judge, Mr Abang, adjourned the matter till March 5.
NAN reports that EFCC arraigned Mr Maina alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, on October 25, 2019.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the 12-count charge of laundering money to the tune of N2 billion.
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