• Says ex-pension chief also wanted in Niger Republic

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it does not want bail for a former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, because he might escape.

It said Maina is also wanted in Niger Republic over a whopping $1.7million found in his house in Niamey.

It said the suspect had refused to submit his American passport to the EFCC fuelling fears that he might run away.

But it insisted that the accused person is healthy and there is nothing showing that his purported/”reported” ailment cannot be taken care of in Nigeria by the complainant/applicant or that our medical facilities are inadequate.

These depositions are contained in a counter affidavit by the EFCC to Maina’s application for bail before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The affidavit was deposed to by one of the crack detectives of the EFCC, Mr. Mohammed U. Goji, against the backdrop of the battle for bail by Maina in the court.

The ex-pension boss was arraigned on October 25 by the EFCC before Justice Abang on a 12-count charge of money laundering.

Although his trial was expected to begin in full force on Tuesday, Maina was absent with a report from Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, claiming that he was ill.

But Maina, who claimed to be suffering from severe headache, appeared on wheelchair before the court on Thursday.

The EFCC has, however, said it is opposed to bail for Maina who is standing trial for alleged N3billion fraud with Common Input Property and Investment Limited.

Goji, who swore to the counter-affidavit, said Maina and his wife are American citizens and naturalized citizens of the United Arab Emirates.

The EFCC affidavit said in part: “Contrary to paragraph 19(d), (f), (h) & (j) of the supporting affidavit our investigation revealed that the 1st defendant/applicant owns a house in Niger Republic and that the house is presently a subject of criminal investigation in Niger Republic where a whopping cash sum of $1,700,000 was allegedly found.

“Further to the above, there is likelihood of the 1st defendant/ applicant being arrested in Niger in connection with that investigation whenever he enters that country or passes through it in an effort to relocate to his base in Dubai or to America.

“That the defendant and his wife have established businesses in Dubai where they are residents since fleeing Nigeria. They also own the home they live in Dubai. While the 1st defendant/ applicant owns and runs a car rent business (called North Ridge), the wife runs a cleaning services business (spotless and flawless cleaning).

“Now shown to me and marked Exhibit EFCC 10 & 10A are copies of documents relating to the two businesses, respectively.”

The EFCC said it has uncovered desperate plans of Maina to take flight and leave the shores of Nigeria as soon as he is released on bail.

It added: “That in response to paragraphs 15 and 17 of the supporting affidavit, I know as a fact that it is because of the facts stated in this counter affidavit and the serious apprehension that the 1st defendant/applicant would jump bail that the commission obtained a remand order from the High Court of FCT to keep him until his arraignment before this court.

“That further to the foregoing, I know as a fact that part of the 1st defendant/applicant’s desperate plans to take to flight and leave the shores of Nigeria as soon as he is released on bail, is the deliberate and malicious refusal to surrender his American passport to the EFCC operatives blatantly lying to me that the passport has expired and is currently with the American Embassy for the purpose of renewal.”

The anti-graft commission also expressed worries that Maina has refused to submit its US passport as part of his bid to escape.

It said: “ I am aware that the American passport of 1st defendant/applicant depicted in Exhibit EFCC 2 is valid and will only expire in 2022. That 1st defendant/applicant will surely and definitely jump bail if granted and would not make himself available for trial, whether or not he is allowed to travel abroad before the conclusion of his trial; and that in the event he travels abroad through Niger Republic he may be arrested there for other crimes, thereby stalling his present trial before this court.

“That with huge financial and material resources at his disposal, the 1st defendant/applicant is likely to reach out to some of the witnesses named in the proof of evidence and also use his connections to intimidate, influence, arm-twist and cow the witnesses (some of whom are his blood relations and he is their benefactor) into submission and thereby prejudice his trial; much of this is detailed in Exhibit EFCC 9 attached to this counter affidavit.”

The EFCC dismissed claims by Maina that he is unhealthy and would need treatment abroad.

It said there is nothing showing that the purported/”reported” ailment of Maina cannot be taken care of in Nigeria by the complainant/applicant or that our medical facilities.

The EFCC said: “That contrary to the depositions in paragraph 18(a), (b) & (c) of the supporting affidavit, my interaction with the 1st defendant/applicant since his arrest and even during his arraignment in court indicates that he is healthy; and that there is nothing in Exhibit F attached to the supporting affidavit showing that the purported/”reported” ailment of the 1st defendant/applicant cannot be taken care of in Nigeria by the complainant/applicant or that our medical facilities are inadequate.

“That further to the depositions in paragraph 6 of the supporting affidavit, I am aware that many Nigerians especially pensioners and their dependants as well as families of deceased pensioners whose funds the 1st defendant/applicant allegedly stole (and laundered through acquisition of choice properties across the country and other parts of the world living in opulence with his family), are very angry with the 1st defendant/applicant; and that it is in his best interest to be kept in protective custody until the final determination of the charge against him.

“That contrary to the depositions in paragraphs 12(a) & (b) and 19(g) of the supporting affidavit I know as a fact that there is nothing impracticable about the conditions stipulated in Exhibit C attached to the supporting affidavit; I also know as a fact that no responsible person is willing to stand as surety for 1st defendant/applicant’s bail.

“That contrary to the depositions in paragraphs 23 & 24 and 19(f) of the supporting affidavit, the Nigerian Correctional Service still has the mandate of keeping custody of inmates on order of the court; and that the cost of releasing the 1st defendant/applicant (who would most definitely take to flight in that event) will by far be higher than the cost of keeping him in custody.

“That I have been assured by our team of prosecutors that the complainant will do all within the convenience of this honourary court to prosecute this case expeditiously.

“That it will not be in the interest of justice to grant this application. That I make this oath in good faith believing all contained therein to be true and correct in accordance with the Oaths Act.”

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