Abdulrasheed Maina rose through the ranks to become a director in the federal public service and was later appointed as chairman of the now-defunct PRTT, a position he held between 2010 and 2013. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said while heading the pension task team Maina laundered over N2 billion ($4.87m) believed to be pensioners’ monies.
He was not charged until 2019 as he fled the country in 2014, soon after the malfeasance was discovered. Midway through his trial, Maina jumped bail. He was later arrested by Interpol in Niamey, Niger, but claimed he was in the francophone country to attend to his ailing health.
On 8 November the trial of the former pension boss reached a conclusion and, in a judgement delivered by Justice Okon Abang, the court found him guilty of the 12-count charge.
Justice Abang stated that the EFCC successfully established the offences contained in the charge and ordered Maina to repay about N2.1 billion and forfeit some properties.
One of Maina’s lawyers, Anayo Adibe, said the legal team intends to explore their client's right to appeal. In an interview with Africa Legal, Adibe also alleged bias against Maina, insisting that he was not given a fair hearing. “He had so much to say but was never given the opportunity to say it,” the lawyer said, adding that Maina was only allowed to call a witness.
When Adibe was reminded that Maina jumped bail, he maintained that his client’s ill-health necessitated the travel and that should not be the basis for the denial of an appeal. He also expressed the hope of a successful appeal. “We are not asking that the entire evidence of the prosecution be jettisoned. All we are saying is allow us to present our defence. Nothing more,” Adibe stated.
Meanwhile, Auwal Rafsanjani, the Nigerian representative of Transparency International, the global anti-corruption agency, says while Maina cannot be denied the right to appeal, the judgement is a welcome development. “It is great that it comes to an end because the way some of these cases are becoming endless without conclusion is worrisome.”
Beyond the jail term, Rafsanjani told Africa Legal that he looks forward to the recovered stolen funds being transparently utilised for Nigerians. He also advocated for judicial reforms that will promote timely dispensation of justice.
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