By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA
The Federal High Court in Abuja has issued a subpoena to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to appear as a witness in the ongoing trial of the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT.
Trial Justice Okon Abang equally summoned the erstwhile Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu.
The summons followed an application that Maina, who is answering to a 12-count money laundering charge alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, filed for them to appear as defence witnesses in the matter.
Maina had earlier notified the court of his intention to produce 24 witnesses in furtherance of his defence to the charge against him.
Meanwhile, in the subpoena dated March 8, Justice Abang specifically summoned 10 persons to come before the court to testify in Maina’s defence.
The court summons extended to both Malami and Magu, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard on Tuesday, read: “You are commanded in the name of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to attend before this court at court 6, on 9th, 10th, 11th day of March 2021 at 9 O’Clock in the forenoon, and so from day to day till the above case is tried, to give evidence on behalf of the 1st Defendant.”
Others the court also subpoenaed to appear and testify in the matter, included renowned Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, M. Mustapha, Hassan Salihu, Mohammed Wakil, G.T Idris, Kenneth Amabem, Ibrahim Kaigama and the Director of Compliance at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
EFCC had earlier closed its case against the Defendants after it called a total of nine witnesses, even as the court-ordered Maina to open his defence to the charge.
The court ordered Maina to open his defence in the matter after it foreclosed his right to enter a no-case-submission in the matter.
Justice Abang held that Defendant waived his right to make such application or cross-examine some of the Prosecution witnesses, having jumped bail and fled the country to the Niger Republic, midway into his trial.
Consequently, Maina called his first witness, Mr Ngozika Ihuoma, who alleged that Magu misappropriated a total of 222 properties worth N1.63 trillion, which he said was recovered by the PRTT.
The DW-1 further alleged that the former EFCC boss, Magu, sold most of the recovered properties to his friends and associates.
He told the court that one of the choice properties the PRTT recovered and handed over to EFCC was grossly undervalued from N6billion in 2011 and sold to a renowned lawyer in 2015 for N1bn.
He said the PRTT wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari shortly after he assumed office in 2015 and expressed its willingness to make available to him intelligence that would lead to the recovery of over N3trillion hidden in undisclosed accounts in some banks.
The DW-1 said on the basis of the letter, President Buhari, in January 2016, sent Malami, SAN, and the National Security Adviser, NSA, to have a meeting with Maina in Dubai, United Arab Emirate, UAE.
“After the meeting in Dubai, Maina gave the delegation intelligence report that led to the recovery of N1.3 trillion out of the N3 trillion promised to recover.
“The money was reported to the Senate Committee that investigated Maina’s reinstatement back to the civil service in 2017.
“Equally, the task team petitioned the Senate on the need to revisit the 7th Assembly Joint Committee that its report was quashed by the Federal High Court in view of the fact that the 222 choice property valued at N1.63 trillion that was handed over to the EFCC has started to be mismanaged”, the witness added.
Meanwhile, the court discharged the DW-1 on Tuesday after he concluded his evidence.
EFCC had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, alleged that Maina used a bank account that was operated by his firm and laundered funds to the tune of about an N2billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.
It told the court that the 1st Defendant (Maina) used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts, as well as recruited his relatives that were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.
The Prosecution maintained that the 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 who were arraigned on October 25, 2019, pleaded not guilty to the charge.