Witness says Maina paid $1.4m for Abuja property, pocketed N146m DTA, as trial continues

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The trial of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman, Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja continued in his absence on Tuesday, November 24, 2020 with the prosecution presenting two witnesses.

Maina is facing a 12-count charge of operating fictitious bank accounts, corruption, and money laundering to the tune of N2 billion, but has neither made appearance in court, nor sent a legal representation since November 26, 2019 when he was released on bail, leading the court to revoke his bail on November 23, 2020, and order his trial in absentia.

Despite his absence and that of his legal team in court today, his trial gained momentum with two witnesses testifying against him, while the cross-examination of the witnesses was foreclosed by the court, due to absence of legal representation by the defendant.

Testifying as the seventh prosecution witness (PW7), Ali Sani, an Abuja-based estate developer told the court that Maina in February 2012 bought a property, located on Plot 965 Life Camp at the cost of N240 million through a proxy, Khalid Aliyu (the fifth prosecution witness). And that he paid in dollar equivalent of $1,400,000.

The witness further told the court that Maina upon the purchase, demanded for the building plan approval, stating that he wanted to convert the place into a service apartment.

The second witness, Ibrahim Abdulkareem, a civil servant with the Ministry of Water Resources, who also worked in the office of the Permanent Secretary, Head of Service of the Federation, while testifying as the eight prosecution witness (PW8) told the court that Maina, about 2010 was deployed from the Nigeria Customs Service, Immigration Prison Service Pension Office in Gwagwalada, Abuja to be chairman, Pension Task Team and was directed by the then Head of Service to oversee the civil service pension, under the Head of Service.

He said that he was appointed as a representative of the office of the Permanent Secretary, Head of Service to work with Maina.

According to him, Maina, sometime in 2011, came with an application for funds for nationwide biometric exercise, amounting to N146 million and directed him to sign it since he was part of the task team. Having signed it, it was forwarded to the Head of Service, whom he said, gave his approval.

According to the witness, Maina after the approval directed that the funds be sent to five different accounts of staff members in the office of the Permanent Secretary and disclosed that N55,998,000 (Fifty-five Million, Nine Hundred and Ninety-eight thousand) was wired into his own account, while the rest was spread out to his four colleagues. Dateline.

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