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MAINA GATE: How former pension reform boss stole N14bn -witness

A Federal High Court in Abuja was yesterday bombarded with more revelations on how the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, stole over N14billion from the federal pension account.

A prosecution witness from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Rouquaya Ibrahim made the revelation as Maina’s trial continued in his absence.

AbeyaNews reports that Mrs. Ibrahim who testified as the ninth prosecution witness revealed that Maina pilfered pension funds, in connivance with the former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.

She said the EFCC was in 2010 invited to join in the verification exercise of pensioners, together with other organizations that included the ICPC, and the Department of State Service, DSS.

She said: “During the course of that verification, my colleagues who were part of the exercise discovered a payment mandate for pensioners bearing names of several individuals for the total sum of about N94m and they decided to sample some of the names.

“On that list they discovered that two names on that list were fake pensioners.

“As a result of that, a report was written to the Commission by the team that went for the verification, recommending investigation of the matter.

“Based on that, the pension fraud team was created. We started our investigation by writing to all the banks in existence as at that time, about 32 of them, requesting for the pension account of the Head of Service. “Part of what our investigation revealed was that the Head of Service at that time, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, was operating 66 illegal accounts.”

Mrs. Ibrahim who is an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, attached to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism, AML/CFT unit said Maina also made illegal payments to National Union of Pensioners, NUP, and to another association called Association of Retired Civil Servants.

She explained that the EFCC was in 2010 invited to join in the verification exercise of pensioners, together with other organizations that included the ICPC, and the DSS.

“During the course of that verification, my colleagues who were part of the exercise discovered a payment mandate for pensioners bearing names of several individuals for the total sum of about N94m and they decided to sample some of the names.

“On that list they discovered that two names on that list were fake pensioners.

“As a result of that, a report was written to the Commission by the team that went for the verification, recommending investigation of the matter.

“Based on that, the pension fraud team was created. We started our investigation by writing to all the banks in existence as at that time, about 32 of them, requesting for the pension account of the Head of Service.

“We also wrote the Accountant General of the Federation, requesting for the pension account of the Head of Service.

“Part of the request was that we also asked the AGF to furnish us with the approvals for the opening of those accounts.

“Part of what our investigation revealed was that the Head of Service at that time, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, was operating 66 illegal accounts.”

Meanwhile, the court will today commence hearing in the application filed by Senator Ali Ndume.

Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District in the 9th Senate was on Monday this week, remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre over his failure to produce Maina whom he stood surety for.

Justice Okon Abang said the Senator would remain in detention pending when he either produced the Defendant or pay the N500million bail bond into the Federation Account.

Abang said his attention was drawn to Ndume’s application around 8:58am and he promptly directed the court clerk to fix the application for hearing today.

AbeyaNews reports that Ndume’s lawyer was not in court but counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, confirmed that he was served with both the bail application and hearing notice.

Ndume has approached the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal to challenge his detention in prison custody.

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