A Prosecution Witness, in the ongoing trial of a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, on money laundering charges, Mrs. Rouqayya Ibrahim, yesterday, told the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja how the defendant stole over N14billion from the federal pension account. Testifying as PW-9, Mrs. Ibrahim, said investigations revealed that Maina pilfered pension funds, in connivance with the former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.
The witness, 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 she was a member of the pension fraud task team that uncovered how names of fake pensioners were used to siphon funds by Maina and his alleged accomplices.
She further stated that the EFCC was in 2010 invited to join in the verification exercise of pensioners, together with other organizations that included the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, and the Department of State Service, DSS. According to the witness: “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 N94million 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.