Money laundering: Appeal Court upholds Maina’s 8-year jail term

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, affirmed the eight-year jail sentence handed to the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina.

The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel, said ito set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja which found him guilty following his conviction on a 12-count money laundering charge.

It held that no evidence was adduced to establish that the former pension boss was denied fair hearing by the trial court.

In its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Elfreda Williams-Daudu, the appellate court resolved all the issues Maina raised before it, against him.

It held that that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Consequently, it dismissed the appeal as lacking in merit.

It will be recalled that the high court had in a judgement it delivered on November 8, 2021, convicted and sentenced Maina over his complicity in money laundering.

The court equally found Maina’s firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, guilty of the crime.

Trial Justice Okon Abang held that the sentence would run concurrently with effect from October 25, 2019, which was the day the defendants were arraigned.

More so, the trial judge ordered Maina and his firm to forfeit about N2.1billion that was traced to their bank accounts, as well as another sum of $223, 396, 30, to the Federal Government, after which he directed that the company should be wound up.

The court held that the forfeited funds should be paid to FG within 90 days.

Likewise, it ordered the forfeiture of Maina’s two choice properties at Lifecamp and Jabi districts of Abuja, to the government, as well as the auction of a bullet proof car and a BMW 5 Series exotic car that was found in premises of the convict.

Justice Abang stressed that though the law made provision for a maximum sentence of 14 years for the offence that was committed by the defendants, he said he was moved by Maina’s plea for mercy.

EFCC had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, alleged that Maina used a bank account that was operated by his firm and laundered funds, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.

It told the court that the 1st defendant (Maina) used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts, as well as recruited his relatives that were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.

The EFCC further alleged that Maina induced staff of both the United Bank of Africa, UBA, and Fidelity Bank Plc, to open accounts for him, without conducting the requisite due diligence to verify the identity of the beneficial owner.

According to the anti-graft agency, the defendants committed criminal offences, punishable under sections 11(2) (a), 15(3), and 16(2) (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, and also acted in breach of the Advance Fee Fraud Act.

Maina had midway into his trial, jumped bail and escaped from the country.

Though the court okayed his trial in absentia and issued a warrant of arrest against him, Maina, was subsequently re-arrested in Niger Republic and returned back to the country on December 4, 2020.

Justice Abang had on October 7, 2021, also convicted and sentenced Maina’s son, Faisal, to 14 years in prison for money laundering

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