By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Tuesday, varied the bail condition it earlier handed to former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is facing money laundering charge.
The court, in a ruling by trial Justice Okon Abang, reduced Maina’s bail sum from N1billion to N500million.
It also reviewed the aspect of the bail terms that required the defendant to produce two serving Senators to stand surety for him.
Justice Abang varied the condition by allowing the former pension reform boss to only produce one serving Senator that owns a property worth N500m in either Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse II, Central Business District or Katampe districts in Abuja.
Maina, who is answering to 12-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against him and a firm, Common Input Properties and Investment Limited, had approached the court to review and vary some of the bail conditions it imposed on him on November 25, 2019, insisting that he found them too stringent to fulfill.
The court had aside admitting him to bail to the tune of N1billion, stressed that he must produce two sureties with N500m each.
It held that the sureties must be serving Senators from any of the six geopolitical zones without pending criminal cases.
Justice Abang held that the sureties must have fully developed landed properties in either Maitama or Asokoro Districts of the Federal Capital Territory.
He said the sureties must be resident in Abuja and must accompany the defendant to court on every trial date, adding that they must submit their three years tax clearance certificate for verification.
The trial Judge warned that Maina’s bail would be revoked any day his surety failed to accompany him to court for his trial.
Besides, he directed the sureties to file an affidavit to show that they are capable of paying any penance should the defendant jump bail, even as he ordered Maina to surrender all his diplomatic and international passports to the court’s registry.
However, over two months after he was granted bail, Maina remained at the Kuje Correctional Center owing to his inability to perfect the conditions.
Aside allegation that he used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts, EFCC had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, alleged that the defendant used the firm to launder funds totaling about N2billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Maina recruited his relatives that were staff of some banks, to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channeled.
The prosecution told the court that contrary to financial regulations, the two banks, opened phony accounts for the defendant, without conducting due diligence to ascertain the true identities of the owners.
It told the court that some of the bogus names Maina used to operate the accounts in a bid to conceal his true identity, included Aliyu Nafisatu and Dr. Abdullahi A. Fisal.
In count three of the charge, EFCC alleged that the defendant had sometime in 2014, took possession of the sum of N171.91million that was paid into a Nigerian bank account.
He was in count four, alleged to have taken possession of $360, 588.27, knowing that same was proceeds of an unlawful activity.
Maina was alleged to have in 2012, opened account number 4510002782 with his pseudo name, Dr. Fisal, and subsequently wired $1.822m into the account.
In count 11, EFCC told the court that without going through any financial institution, the defendant paid a cash sum of $1.4m to purchase a property in Abuja.
It said that the defendant had on June 27, 2012, made cash payment of $2m through one Adamu Modibbo, for the purchase of another property in the Jabi District of Abuja.
The prosecution maintained that 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.
The defendants had since told the court that they are innocent of all the allegations