*Petitions EFCC Over Involvement of First and Fidelity Banks in the Money Laundering Case
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, is full of plaudits for the ruling of the Abuja Federal High Court that sentenced a former chairman of the defunct Pension Reforms Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, to 61 years’ imprisonment even though the term will run concurrently for eight years.
In a press release issued by the anti-graft coalition’s Director for Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, pointed out that CACOL received the news of the sentence with great delight taking into account attempts by the accused to evade justice.
“We at CACOL, received the news of the Federal High Court in Abuja verdict on Maina with great delight. It is very interesting to note how he had tried to evade trial by jumping bail at different times and how he had suffered, impoverished and denied many pensioners the opportunity to eat the fruits of their labour while they were alive. Many of the pensioners that he ought to have paid have died due to his own greed and sadism”.
In its judgement, the court ordered Maina and his firm to restitute about N2.1billion that was traced to their bank accounts, to the Federal Government, after which it ordered that the company should be wound up. Tat is, in addition to ordering the forfeiture of Maina’s two choice properties at Life camp and Jabi districts of Abuja, to the government, as well as the auction of a bulletproof car and a BMW 5 series car that was found on the premises of the convict.
In its release, CACOL pointed out that though the judge well aware of the position of law on the matter, he however, was moved to acting rather soft in view of Maina’s mercy pleas. The judgement, according to CACOL, should have been more stringent given that the accused is himself, a merciless individual.
Though, his plea for mercy landed on the soft spot of the Judge, who sentenced him to 8 years instead of the maximum 14 years provided by the law, inasmuch as we want to commend Justice Okon Abang for taking this bold step, we believe that Maina doesn’t deserve mercy because he is a merciless person and he had done so much to evade trial which is a pointer to the fact that he is a chronic criminal that should not be given a chance to relate with decent people in the society. We believed that he deserved the maximum sentence of 14 years but now that the judgment had been passed, we hope that EFCC will appeal the judgment and seek for maximum sentence for a weakest soul like Maina. It has also come to public knowledge that Maina has other assets in different parts of the world, he should be able to either account for those assets or be forfeited to the Federal Government pending his ability to defend them.”
Please that at least Maina is reaping what he sowed, CACOL called on the EFCC to keep up its hunt down of public officers who get thrills from shortchanging Nigerians through corruption without being deterred by their nefarious attempts to evade justice.
“In recent times, we have seen public office holders after siphoning the commonwealth of the citizens of this country running into billions to advance their individual and group’s business interests without recourse to laid-down procedures and thereafter be running from pillar to post in order to evade arrest and the attendant judicial prosecution. This is why we call on all the Anti-graft agencies to continue to investigate and prosecute other public office holders who are still enjoying their freedom and spending their loots. Moreover, any asset the person has accumulated should be deemed to be proceeds of corruption and should be confiscated and the person should begin again. We have always opined that culprits of official corruption need to be deprived of their evil accumulations, wherever and whenever they are found out, and made to face the full wrath of the law.”
Meanwhile, CACOL has transmitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, demanding for the investigation and possible prosecution of both Fidelity and First Banks over their involvement as “conduits” in the Abdulrasheed Maina money laundering case.
“We understand that, Fidelity Bank provided the channels with which the convict (Abdulrasheed Maina) used in defrauding the federal government, and for this reason the license of the bank ought to have been withdrawn as the bank benefitted from the proceeds of illegal transactions,” CACOL’s petition read in part.
CACOL added that the need to look into the conduct of both banks cannot be over emphasized particularly because even the judge acknowledged the complicity of the two corporate organizations.
“Even the judge, Justice Okon Abang, declared that the convict, through the assistance of Fidelity Bank Plc, deprived the pensioners that gave their all to this country in their youthful age, their legitimate earnings, “Whereas the convict was feeding fat on their sweat in faraway Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), buying choice properties, driving bulletproof cars, living in affluence beyond his legitimate earnings.
“Sir, we are encouraged to submit this petition to you based on our resolve to always expose any corrupt act(s) being perpetrated by anyone either in public or private sphere,” CACOL pleaded.