N2.3bn theft: EFCC, Customs clash on custody as Maina bags 61-year imprisonment

Justice Okon Abang of  the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday sentenced a former chairman of the Pension Reforms Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, to a total of 61 years’ imprisonment for defrauding the Federal Government of N2.1bn.

This is just as the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and those of the Nigerian Correctional Services clashed over who should take him into custody.

The judge said Maina was guilty of all the 12 counts filed on October 26, 2019, against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Justice Abang sentenced him on count one to eight years’ imprisonment, count two to five years’ imprisonment, count three to eight years’ imprisonment, count four to eight years’ imprisonment, count five to three years’ imprisonment and count six to five years’ imprisonment.

Maina was also convicted on counts seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 and 12 to eight years, three years, five years, eight years, three years and three years respectively with effect from October 26, 2019.

Since the sentences are to run concurrently, Maina will spend only eight years in jail from October 26, 2019, which means he has only five years left.

The court also ordered the forfeiture of Maina’s three landed properties in Abuja and his bullet proof jeeps and cars.

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They would be auctioned and the proceeds paid into the accounts of the Federal Government.

His company, the Common Input and Property Investment, was ordered to refund N1.8bn and $537,983 within 90 days to the Federal Government.

Justice Abang also ordered the winding up of the company.

The judge regretted that UBA and Fidelity banks which aided Maina in defrauding the Federal Government were not joined in the charges.

According to him, their operating licenses ought to be seized for allowing themselves to be used to defraud pensioners, some of whom have died while awaiting their pensions.

Maina, after his conviction, apologised for all his misdeed.

EFCC, NCoS clash over Maina custody

Earlier, officials of the EFCC clashed with officials of the Nigerian Correctional Services over under whose custody the Maina should be.

After the verdict was delivered, operatives of the EFCC disagreed with their counterparts in NCoS, even though Justice Okon Abang held that Maina should be in NCoS.

The security operatives from both the EFCC and NCoS had an altercation while attempting to take custody of Maina.

After the sentencing, prison officials led Maina out.

However, trouble started when EFCC operatives insisted that Maina must go in their vehicle.

Eventually, Maina was taken away by NCoS.

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