By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
Trial of erstwhile Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, resumed on a dramatic note on Wednesday, as his younger sister, Fatima Abdullahi, mounted the witness box and testified against him.
Fatima, who was brought as a witness by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, told the court that his brother surreptitiously used his picture and name and operated a bank account without her knowledge.
Testifying before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the witness, who gave her testimony behind a screen, said she never knew that Maina was operating an account with her details until she was arrested after she went to the bank to complain about her blocked Automated Teller Machine, ATM, Card.
Identifying herself as a civil servant and resident of Kaduna, Fatima told the court that she and Maina were from the same parents.
The witness said she never heard of a company called Common Input & Investment Nigeria Ltd, which was charged alongside her brother.
Narrating how she got to know about the company, the witness said: “Sometimes in August, 2019, I went to the ATM of Diamond Access Bank to withdraw some money. Unfortunately, I could not. So, I went inside the bank to see the manager to complain. The manager told me to hold on, that he would find out the reason.
“After waiting for an hour, the manager told me that I was under arrest and he took me to an office and asked me to wait for the EFCC official to come and take me to their office in Kaduna.
“That was when the manager told me that my accounts were blocked. So when the EFCC official came, they took me to their office for questioning. When we got there, the officials were asking me if I know any company by the name Common Input, to which I told them I do not. In fact, that was the first time I was hearing about the name.
“They told me that there was a transaction in Common Input and I told them I am not aware of the transaction. So, they made me write a statement.
“Afterwards, I was given an administrative bail on the same day and that I should proceed to the EFCC office in Abuja the next day.
“The next day, I went to the Abuja office together with my lawyer. The officials also asked me if I know any company by the name Common Input, to which I say I do not. So, they presented a CAC incorporation form of the company where the name Fatima Samaila Abdullahi was stated together with my date of birth but the phone number on the form is not my own. Even the name as stated on the form is not my name as my full name is Fatima Abdullahi.”
She told the court that her signature was not the one on the form, as well as the one on another CAC form for Kangolo Digital and Drew Investment, another firm that was linked to her brother.
“The name is my name, but the signature is not mine. So, I was asked to write a statement, which I did.
“Also, I was shown an account opening package of Common Input and Drew Investment with UBA. I was shown a BVN, which is my BVN and I told them I don’t know anything about those accounts. I was never given any form to sign in respect of those account. And I have never made any deposit or withdrawal from Drew Investment, Common Input and Kangolo.
“I have never opened any account with UBA. The other accounts I have are in GTBank, Access, Fidelity and First Bank.
All my genuine accounts were blocked together with those fictitious accounts. Even my salary account was blocked and I cannot access it,” she said.
The witness also denied knowledge of shares bought in her name in the companies, adding that the photograph attached to the documents was a younger version of her before she got married.
Trial Justice Okon Abang adjourned the matter till Monday for the witness to be cross-examined.
Maina is answering to a 12-count money laundering charge the EFCC preferred against him and his firm.
Meanwhile, the court also heard how a bank account and several properties were discovered in the name of Maina’s son, Faisal.
An EFCC operative, Mohammed Goje, who was a member of Pension Fraud Team of the Commission, told the court that his team had in the course of their investigation, uncovered that Maina was involved “in a complex web of money laundering, which include movement of funds from the police pension account as well as the accounts of the pension office of the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation to corporate entities as payment for biometric enrollment; payment of collective allowances and payment of contracts, which were fraudulent.”
He told the court that it was while EFCC investigated Maina that his son’s complicity was discovered.
The witness added that during the investigation, they came across an account named Alhaji Faisal Abdullahi Farms with the UBA, of which he (Faisal) is a co-signatory with Abdulrasheed Maina, adding that Alhaji Faisal Farms is operated by Abdulrasheed Maina and that investigation revealed that the account was funded with the proceeds of illegality.
He said, “We came across following companies: Drew Investment & Construction Company LTD, Cruise City Ltd; Northridge Property Int’l Ltd; Mambilla Resorts. These companies have the defendant (Faisal) as a director.
“We also discovered that a property at Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna, was acquired in the name of Drew Investment & Construction Ltd. We also discovered that another property at Gombe Road, Biu LGA of Borno State was acquired in the name of Cruise City Ltd.
“We also discovered that a property at No. 3a Sambo Road, Kaduna, was acquired in the name of Faisal A. Abdullahi. A property at Plot 165 Life Camp, Abuja was acquired in the name of Doctor Faisal A. Abdullahi. A property at No 16e, Katuru road, Kaduna was also acquired in the name of Faisal A. Abdullahi.
“The full name of the defendant is Faisal Abdulrasheed Maina but in the course of filling the declaration of assets form, he indicated his grandfather’s name as Abdullahi.”
Maina’s son is answering to a 3-count money laundering charge the EFCC entered against him.