he Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday granted an order of interim forfeiture of 23 landed properties linked to a former Chairman of Pension Reforms Task Team (PRTT), Abdurasheed Maina.
This was as the Federal Government slammed a 12-count criminal charge on Maina over alleged pension fraud to the tune of N2.1 billion.
Maina is expected to be arraigned alongside his son, Faisalb before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
There are however indications that Faisal will be arraigned on a separate charge.
Both father and son will be arraigned before Justice Okon Abang.
The interim forfeiture order granted by Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbajo was premised on an ex-parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Counsel to the anti-graft agency, S.M Abubakar, hinged his application on Section 17(1) & (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud related offences Act, 2006 and the inherent powers of the court.
The applicant prayed the court to grant an interim order of forfeiture to the Federal Government of the assets and properties listed in the motion.
It further prayed the court to direct the publication of the interim order of the forfeiture in any national daily newspaper inviting any person(s) or body(ies) who may have interest in the assets and properties to show cause within 15 days of such publication, why final order of forfeiture to the central government of the said assets and properties should not be made.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo, in a short ruling after listening to the application, granted the application as prayed.
The court later adjourned till November 19 for hearing.
Parts of the assets forfeited are: Plot 965 Cadastral Zone C02, Gwarimpa; No 13, Korau road, Nasarawa district, Kano; Plot 37, Kinshasa road, Maiduguri and No 16, Dabai road, off Mangoro road, Sokoto.
Also listed are property at No 62, AC Maternity Ward, Damaturu road, Biu, Borno State; Block 23v, flat 2, located at life camp, Abuja (2 bedroom, semi-detached); Plot 1b, Ajayi Road, Unguwan Rimi, covered by C of O; Plot MF – 27A, New Pasali layout, Kuje; Property located at 16B/BG, Gombe road, Biu and Farm at Dorawa, Karshi Development Area, Karu LGA, Nasarawa.
In the affidavit in support of the ex-parte application deposed to by one Mohammed Goji who is an investigative officer with, the EFCC averred that the Commission was invited sometime in 2010 by the Office of the Head of Service to assist in the verification/biometric exercise of the federal civil service pensioners.
He further averred that during the investigation, two fake pensioners were discovered, which led to a full scale investigation for more fake pensioners.
Goji added that in the course of investigation, it was discovered that large scale corruption in form of stealing and money laundering of pension funds had taken place, spearheaded by one Abdurasheed Maina, who was the chairman of PRTT, along with his accomplices.
“That the said Abdurasheed Maina, alongside one of his cohorts, Stephen Oronsanye, the former head of the Civil Service of the Federation, had set out to siphon funds belonging to the federal civil service pensioners by setting up a fraudulent nationwide biometric enrolment exercise for pensioners on the Federal Government payroll under auspices of a Pension Reform Committee.
“That the said Stephen Oronsanye invited one Osarenkhoe Afe to join the Pension Reform Committee.
“That the said Osarenkhoe Afe introduced a company known as Innovative Solutions to the Pension Reform Team through the office of the Head of Service for biometric enrolment project, which company was headed by one Robert Ikazoboh.”
The deponent averred that in the course of investigation, Ikazoboh volunteered extra judicial statement.
“That Innovative Solution Ltd. did not respond to a tender made in the papers, so as to be selected to handle the biometric enrolment project, but rather, were appointed by Mr. Osarenkhoe Afe.”
The prosecution had alleged that Maina fraudulently opened and fictitiously operated accounts with the active connivance of the staff of Private Banking Department of a bank.
Most of the transactions were done through phone calls.
In addition, the prosecution submitted that a bank official’s statement revealed that the sum of N33.8 million was brought from one Bashir Mohammed Taura, a bureau de change operator and he was instructed to facilitate the delivery of the said money to Maina on June 5, 2014.
The prosecution further submitted that its investigation revealed that the bank official also brought another sum of N2,500,000 from same Taura and instructed him to facilitate delivery to Maina on June 6, 2014.
According to the prosecution, the bank official also on March 10, 2014 facilitated the transfer of N33,105,000 million to ALNASRA BDC & JIEK BDC on behalf of Maina from cluster logistics account for the purpose of buying US dollars.
It further alleged that the sum of N224,085,000 was paid to Innovative Solution Ltd. translating to overpayment of N25 million to Innovative Solution.