Vanguard News

Mainagate  opens  floodgate  of scandals

Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
How govt officials, security agents, family members, banks stole N17 billion pension cash

ALLEGED STOLEN CASH
*Award of fictitious contracts to cronies – N5.7 b
*Payment to ghost pensioners – N830 million
*Allowances for non-existing trips – N1.365 b
*Purported payment to state pensions boards – N4.1 b
*Purported payment to NUP –  N2.29 b
*Purported payment to FG retirees –  N253.3 million

ALLEGED BENEFICIARIES
*HoS
*IGP
*DG budget
*Perm Secs
*EFCC
*ICPC

Consequent upon the scandal trailing  the re-appearance in the federal civil service of the wanted ex-chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, PTFPR, Abdulrasheed Maina, details of his alleged monumental looting of the funds left at his disposal by the federal government have begun to emerge – at a time when he remains in hiding.

Buhari, Maina and Malami

Documents at the disposal of Sunday Vanguard, show that Maina, allegedly working in concert with top government officials and close family members allegedly caused the disappearance of a whopping N17 billion out of the N24 billion cash which the federal government set aside for the payment of pension liabilities to its workers nationwide.

The looting was actively perpetrated in conjunction with key officials of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Inspector General of Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and related Offences Commission, ICPC, the Budget Office of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and key commercial banks in the country, between 2008 and 2013.   All these before the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency.

In many cases the presiding Head of Service, the Inspector General of Police, DG Budget and heads of EFCC and ICPC, allegedly benefitted under the guise of embarking on phantom biometric verification exercises.

Documents from where Sunday Vanguard pieced together this web of fraud show that while Maina allegedly used commercial banks and family members and bureaux de change to launder  N2.7  billion, he, in the same breath allegedly connived with other top officials of federal government agencies connected to pension management to steal another  N14.374  billion between 2008 and 2013, based on allegations.

How Jonathan’s  FG boxed itself into the fraud ring

Abdulrasheed Maina, the then an acting director with the Customs, Immigration and Prisons Office, CIPPO, was appointed as the Chairman of the Presidential Pension Reforms Task Team, PPTT, by then Head of Service, Stephen Oronsanye, with a mandate to reform the pension system and clear the arrears of pensions owed government retirees.

As at the time, the sum of N24 billion had already been set aside by the federal government in various banks for the PRTT to use and pay the retirees, most of whom have suffered and died in the process of getting their pensions and gratuities without success.

But after getting into the office and seeing the huge sums of money at his disposal, Maina, working in league with senior officials of government, appeared to have had a change of mind: It was that change of objective that led to the massive looting.

Therefore, the angst against his re-appointment into the civil service and subsequent promotion is against the background of the  humongous litany of allegations arising from his actions during the Jonathan administration.   That is why Nigerians are asking what went wrong?   And since these discoveries were already being pursued via litigation, how did Maina sneak back into service?

Modus operandi of stealing:

A breakdown of the amount established to have been  stolen and laundered using the  following  modus  operandi  from  2008  to  2013.

*Award of fictitious contracts to cronies – N5,761,150,608.44

*Payment to ghost pensioners – N829,  902,260.40

*Allowances for non-existing trips – N1,  365,821,942.91

*Purported payment to state pensions boards – N4,  192,825,310.99

*Purported payment to NUP – N2,290,593,322.35

*  Association  Of Federal Public Service Retirees (AFPSR) –  N253,390,300

TOTAL N14, 374,236,846.09

 

Fictitious Pensioners:  This method ensures that ‘selected and trusted’ officials  in the Office of the  Head of Civil Service scout for fictitious pensioners and ask them to open several accounts using different aliases and documents (as pensioners) and the money received from  the Pension office (as pension arrears) will  be deposited  into the fraudulent accounts.  The account owner would   then  withdraw the money and give it to the person who instructed him to open the account and a commission given to the former out of the funds received.

The use of Collective allowance:  This fraudulent tactic, which allegedly became very handy under Maina and the OHCSF, saw a situation whereby a  Director  would  approve payment of purported staff of the Office to one single individual.  After the payment is made, the person  whose account was used will withdraw 90% and hand over cash to the Director or whoever was  responsible  for the payment.

Fictitious Contracts that were awarded at inflated prices to  both registered & non registered companies:  Here, key officials of the HoCSF allegedly authorised by the Director, ask their    Staff and  friends to register companies with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in which payments were made for  contracts that were never executed; some contracts partly executed though grossly inflated, and such payments diverted  to  the suspects.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that it was based on this discovery that the EFCC initially charged the former Hos,  Stephen  Oronsanye, Abdulrasheed A. Maina, Director of Finance and Account, Dr.  Sani Shuaibu Teidi;  Mrs.  Phina Ukamaka Chidi, Deputy Director; Aliyu Bello, Special Assistant to Director of Administration; Olanipekun Emmanuel, Head of Final Account; Abdul  Mohammed, Assistant Cash Pay Officer; Garbo Tahir, Cashier; and M.K. Ahmed, Assistant Director, Variation; all in the OHCSF, to court for fraud.

In addition,  the EFCC also pressed charges against  two other bankers namely: Franklin Nwankwo  and Eric  D.  Omoefe, along with the government officials for their roles  in assisting them to launder the fund.   Also, one Abdullahi Omeiza, was charged for his role in operating 13    pension accounts in 13 different Banks with 13 different names.

Based on the same discovery, the anti-graft agency also charged Alhaji Ali Abatcha and Elder  Actor Zal, former President  and  Secretary General of the  Nigerian Union Pensioners, for conniving with Dr. Shuaibu to steal  pension  funds.

How Maina allegedly used banks, family members, associates to launder  N2.7 b

A major report prepared by the EFCC to the Attorney General’s Office, for the Director of Public Prosecution with a view to prosecuting Maina and his associates indicates a shocking web of alleged fraudulent elements within and outside government, who connived with the suspect to loot at least  N2.7  billion out of the pension fund.

According to the report, sighted by Sunday Vanguard, Maina allegedly used no fewer than five of his personal companies to perpetrate the laundering of the huge cash from the public treasury.

The report alleges, “Investigation revealed that Mr. Maina fictitiously owned and operate the  following accounts with a bank : Cluster Logistics, Drew    Investment  &  Construction Ltd, Kongolo Dynamics Cleaning Ltd, “Dr”  AbduUahi A. Faizal,  Nafisatu Aliyu Yeldu and Abdulrasheed Abdullahi  Maina,

“That Analysis of the above listed accounts revealed a total turnover    of more than  N2.7  billion.   It is important to note that 95% of  deposits into the fraudulent accounts were cash deposits made by bankers in their own names and other fictitious names.

“Investigation revealed that Mr. Maina fraudulently opened and
fictitiously operated all the accounts with the active connivance of the staff of the Private Banking Department of a bank, namely Danjuma Zubairu,  Toyin Meseke (Account Officer to some of the accounts investigated),  Khalid Ali  Biu (Maina’s relation) andAbubakar Gombe (Account officer of one of the accounts investigated) in Kaduna Branch.

“Forensic analysis of Toyin Meseke telephone handsets revealed several text messages and email correspondences regarding specific instructions on running the accounts from Abdulrasheed
Maina

“Investigation revealed that Danjuma Zubairu (Group head of Private Banking) mostly approved those transactions via telephone and email instructions from Maina.

The report further alleges:  “That  Toyin Meseke bought the sum of  ($200,000)  equivalent of N33,800,000 from one Bashir Mohammed Taura a bureau de Change and instructed him to facilitate the delivery of  same money to Abdulrasheed Maina   in Dubai, U.A.E on  05/05/2014

“ Toyin Meseke also bought another sum of  $250,000)  equivalent of  N42,500,000)  from one Bashir  Mohammed Taura a bureau de Change operator  and  instructed him to facilitate the delivery of same money to Abdulrasheed Maina  in  Dubai U.A.E on  05/06/2014 

“That  Toyin Meseke facilitated the transfer  of the total  sum of N33,105,000  to ALNASRA BDC  &  JIEK BDC on behalf of Abdulrasheed Maina from Cluster Logistics account for the purpose of buying U.S.

Dollar  on  10/03/2014

“That  Toyin Meseke also facilitated the part liquidation of Maina’s fix deposit of  N100,850,000  and subsequent transfer to Neural wax  BDC on  07/07/2015  for buying U.S. Dollars on behalf Abdulrasheed Maina and delivered same to one Mairo Bashir (Maina’s relation) of a bank with branch in Maitama in Abuja.

“That the total sum  N26.5 million  was paid to Federal  Housing   Authority from Kongolo  Dynamics  Ltd and a balance of  N4.4  Million  was  paid to Alhaji Tijjani Yusuf between 20/10/08  &  19/11/08 for  the purpose of buying a property located at No.12,  11th  Road  Kado Estate Abuja owned by Abdulrasheed Maina.

“That  four  Bank drafts totaling N30 miliion was issued same day (15/03/2010) in favour of one Titus Adeboye from Kongolo Dynamics Ltd account. Mr Adeboye confirmed that the fund traced to him was for the purpose of acquiring a property for Mr. Maina (block  of shops) located at C2 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna.

“That  Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina bought another property located at  No.l0 Amisi  Musa Street, Jabi Abuja FCT from one Alhaji  Adamu  Modibbo and paid the sum of  $2 m cash,  equivalent of  Three N 340 million in  June 2012.

“Finally  investigation has established that all the accounts are  linked  to Mr.  Maina either through his phone number, email address or transactions between the accounts and testimonies of the account officers/ bankers involved  in this complex money laundering scheme. A total number of eight GSM lines have been traced by the EFCC as the ones used by Maina to give instructions to banks, cronies and associates to launder the huge amount under investigation.

The numbers were listed by the anti-graft agency as 08098887733, 08037872471, 08142277550, 07037900714, 08106842813, 08091501002, +971552717234 and +971526294678.

“Furthermore investigation also confirmed that the source of funds into the  accounts could only be from those fictitious contracts and other bogus payments  from government,  particularly OHCSF Pension department  and CIPPO where Maina superintended at  various  times between  2008  and 2013,  as no known existing and viable business  was identified as source of funds into the account and the account officers confirmed same.

“It is also pertinent to note that the Special Audit conducted by  the Auditor  General  of the federation also confirmed those violations investigated by the commission,” the agency concluded.

Other entities, individuals and proxies allegedly used by Maina to loot the treasury

Before his elevation by the then Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsanye, to the post of the chairman of the PRTT, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina was the Acting Director Customs  immigration and prison pension board (CIPPO) since 2008.

Once on the saddle, Mr. Maina came up with a novel idea of carrying out a nationwide and global Biometric enrollment exercise for pensioners on federal government payroll.   This, the report alleges, was no more than a grand scheme to defraud.

Some other persons,  companies and officers    were, thereafter, engaged by the office of the HoS to work with Maina, having bought his idea of biometric verification of pensioners within and outside Nigeria, a scheme that was effectively used to deplete the N24 billion cash set aside by the federal government to settle outstanding pensions of its retirees.

The EFCC report alleges: “Mr. Oronsanye and Maina engaged the
services  of the following  individuals to assist them in looting pension funds.

Osarenkhoe Afe: (charged to court together with Mr.  Maina & Oronsaye): 

He  is  an  IT consultant who introduced Innovative Solutions to the OHCSF for  biometric enrolment project. He stated that,  Mr.  Steven Oronsanye [former Head of Service) asked him to join the Pension Reform Committee headed by Mr. Abudulrasheed Maina.

Robert Ikaziboh:(Prosecution witness)  He is the CEO of Innovative Solutions &  Projects  Ltd.  a company invited by OHCSF to offer services regarding biometric enrolment exercise.  He stated that he was brought into the project by Osa Afe.  He also stated that Mr. Afe verbally instructed him to work with  2 other companies namely Uptrach and Frederick Hamilton.

Ahmed Mazangari:  (Already charged to court)

He is the owner of Xangees Technologies Ltd, an Information Technology consultancy firm and a friend of Maina’s brother, Khalid Biu. He was ‘engaged’ by the OHCSF through Maina based on ‘word of mouth’. He was tasked with the job of computerizing the pension payroll but in the process ironically ended up inserting his own 11 fake pensioners and was used by Maina to receive N153 million for non-existing biometric contract which was withdrawn and handed over to Maina in cash after converting same to Dollars through his brother, Khalid. Ahmed, his mother and company are presently standing trial. He stole N230 million as ghost pensioners’ payment from the OHCSF (including the biometric contract).

During the course of EFCC investigation, the following emerged, as alleged:

“That  Mr. Osarenkhoe Afe (Osa Afe),  the owner of Fredrick Hamilton Global  Ltd introduced Innovative Solutions to the OHCSF where they were awarded the contract  of biometric data capture.

“That the initial contract sum was N63 million as indicated in the award letter  which was paid to Innovative Solution.  However, Innovative Solution requested for a contract extension of the sum of  N136 million  which  brings the total contract sum to N199 million (both initial and additional  amount).

“That  from the analysis of Innovative Solution’s bank statement,  it was discovered that the total sum of  N224.85million  was fraudulently paid to them  showing an excess payment of 25million against  N199 million.  Mr.

Osa Afe confessed that,  the contract sum was inflated at the instance of Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina and the inflated  amount delivered to him.

“That Robert Ikaziboh was discovered to have transferred the  total sum of  N166.5million  from his company  Innovative Solution’s account to Frederick Hamilton Ltd, a company owned by Osarenkhoe Afe.

“ A transfer of  N35million  was discovered from  Innovative Solution to Uptrach Communication Ltd after which Robert Ikazobo confirmed the payment as amount paid to the company that actually executed  the contract of the bio metric exercise.

“That Osarenkhoe Afe was also discovered to have been paid the sum of  N l19.4 million  as biometric enrollment exercise  through his company Fredrick.  Hamilton.  Investigation revealed that the company  has  no contract  award  letter from OHCSF nor did it carry out any contract.

“That including the amount remitted to Fredrick  Hamilton from Innovative solution, Fredrick Hamilton Ltd was discovered to have been fraudulently credited with the total sum of  N 289.05 million  out of which Mr. Osarehkhoe Afe confessed to have remitted over  N250 million  to Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina. Mr.  OSA AFE admitted to have benefited  N35million  only  and promised to refund same.

“Mr.  Osa Afe confessed that,  he issued blank cheques from his Skye Bank

Account no. 1341770007353 to Mr. Maina which he used for making the withdrawals and sometimes he goes with Maina to Oceanic Bank to make the withdrawals and hand them over to him instantly.  This has been confirmed by Oceanic Bank Fredrick Hamilton Ltd account Officer.

“That  one Salami Kareem Adesokan a storekeeper attached to the PRTT confessed that the total sum of  N147,765,400.00  fraudulently paid through various banks from OHCSF to three different  companies  namely  Fatidek ventures,  Jolance and Oblando Nigeria Ltd for fictitious Biometric contract were collected cash by him and delivered same to Mr.  Maino  through one Ann Igwe (Maina’s confidential secretary).

“  That  the total  sum of  N153,146,719  fraudulently paid to XangeTechnologies Limitd from OHCSF for fictitious Biometric contract  was  transferred to a Bureau de change, converted to U.S. Dollars and  then  delivered  to Mr. Maina through his relative,  one Khalid Ali  Biu.

 

How Maina shared pension funds to top FG officials for non-existing biometic verification trips

*Who got what and why

In the report marked CR: 3000/EFCC/ABJ/FAFI/VOL.1/238 and dated August 1, 2016, and signed by the EFCC, which was signed by the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, the commission alleged how top government officials fell over one  another   to benefit from fraudulent baits allegedly offered them by Maina under the guise of travelling abroad to conduct biometric verification of Nigerian pensioners.

In one of the most shameful cases,   Maina approved the sum of N36 million for the purpose of the PRTT to travel to New York for the purpose of carrying out biometric verification of pensioners in the United States.

But curiously, some top government officials   received N3, 286,000 each for the trip which was never undertaken. Similarly, on the same list were the names of a Director,   who got N2, 838,000 for the phantom trip, another Director General,   who was paid N4,854,000, followed by a Director and Assistant Director under him, who also got N2,895,000 and N2,045,000 respectively for the fake trip.

Shortly after that, the same PRTT approved the sharing of another sum of N23 million this time to top government officials for the purpose of travelling to the United Kingdom for the purpose of undertaking biometric verification of pensioners.

Following on the heels of that, Maina also approved the sharing of another sum of N40.6 million to ‘lucky’ top officials to ‘travel to Atlanta in the United States and conduct their own phase of verification of Nigerian pensioners.

For that purpose, a former HoS got N4,854,000, a former top official of the EFCC   got N4,854,000, a former Permanent Secretary, State House received N4,086,000, another N2,738,000 was paid  to another top official of the EFCC, while three operatives of the commission got N1,482,960 and N2,638,000 respectively. A staff of the NIA received N 2,638,000 for the trip.

The same tactic was used by Maina and his cronies to send teams to ‘South Africa, ‘Ghana’,   ‘36 states’ of the federation, ‘zonal levels’ and others to siphon different sums of public funds into their banks accounts in the name of biometric verification.

On the purported trip for verification of pensioners in South Africa, the sum of    N18.4million was released by Maina and paid to top government officials, among whom was the Director General of budget, who got N3,056,000 .

The sum of N9.1  million was expended as estacode for those who ‘went for verification in Ghana’ out of which a Director of Intelligence was paid the sum of N1,388,000 through his First Bank account while two female staff of EFCC got N1,275,000 each as part of the national cake.

And to capture police pensioners across the states, the sum of N160,471,200 was released and shared to the lucky beneficiaries by Maina.

Similarly, for the capturing of biometric data of retirees, Maina shared the sum of N15,477,900 to those who were lucky enough to be selected to go round the six geo-political zones of the country after such data had been captured on state by state basis.

The above were all alleged in the report presented to the Director of Public Prosecutions and would be used to prosecute government’s case when, eventually, Maina appears in court.

 

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