On Friday, the Court of Appeal in Abuja upheld the eight-year sentence that was imposed on Abdulrasheed Maina, the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team. This was in relation to his conviction on a 12-count money laundering charge.
The court’s three-member panel reached a unanimous decision to uphold the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja, finding no grounds to set it aside.
The court has determined that there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that the trial court had deprived the former pension administrator of a just hearing.
The appellate court, in the lead judgement delivered by Justice Elfreda Williams-Daudu, ruled against Maina on all the issues he raised and held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had successfully proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Williams-Daudu has confirmed the interlocutory rulings made during Maina’s trial at the Federal High Court, which were appealed by him.
Subsequent to this, the court ruled to dismiss the appeal on the grounds of lacking merit.
On November 8, 2021, Maina was convicted and sentenced by the high court for his involvement in money laundering charges brought against him by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission.
As per charge FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, the anti-corruption agency has made allegations against Maina for utilising a bank account operated by his firm to engage in money laundering activities and procure real estate assets in Abuja.
The court was informed that the primary defendant, Maina, utilised fabricated identities to establish and manage multiple bank accounts. Additionally, he enlisted the assistance of his family members who were employed in the banking industry to oversee fraudulent bank accounts, which were utilised to transfer unlawful funds.
According to the EFCC’s allegations, Maina is accused of inducing staff members of United Bank of Africa (UBA) and Fidelity Bank Plc to open accounts on his behalf without conducting the necessary due diligence to verify the identity of the beneficial owner.
Maina and his company, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, were found guilty of the offence by the court.
The presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang, has ruled that the sentence will be served concurrently, starting from October 25, 2019, which marks the day the defendants were formally charged.
The presiding judge has issued a ruling that requires Maina and his company to surrender approximately N2.1 billion, which was traced to their bank accounts, as well as other funds to the Federal Government within a period of 90 days.
Subsequently, he issued instructions for the liquidation of the company.
Similarly, it has directed the confiscation of Maina’s assets located in the Lifecamp and Jabi areas of Abuja to be handed over to the government. The auction also included a bulletproof vehicle and a BMW 5 Series luxury car that were discovered on the convict’s property.
Justice Abang noted that while the law stipulates a maximum sentence of 14 years for the defendants’ offence, he was swayed by Maina’s appeal for clemency.