*Connived with Maina and defrauded pensioners
By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
A prosecution witness in the on-going trial of the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, Rouqayya Ibrahim, has told the Federal High Court in Abuja that a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, operated 66 bank accounts that were against civil service rules.
Rouqayya, a principal detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), while testifying on Wednesday before Justice Okon Abang, revealed that the fugitive ex-pension boss and Mr. Oronsaye both connived and defrauded the Federal Government through the country’s pension scheme.
Maina, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on N2 billion money laundering charges, had last attended court on July 2, 2020, during the cross-examination of the sixth prosecution witness by his legal team.
Justice Abang had on Tuesday commenced the trial of Mr. Maina in absentia following his refusal to attend the court’s proceedings.
Rouqayya, the 9th prosecution witness told the court that the sum of N14 billion was stolen from the Nigeria’s pensioners accounts.
“Steve Oronsaye, former Head of Service of Federation was operating 66 illegal accounts for fake pensioners.
“During investigation, we discovered that the sum of N14 billion was stolen from the pensions accounts. Fake allowances and non-existent contracts were awarded.
“Illegal payments to National Union of Pensioners (NUP) and illegal payments to Association of Retired Federal Civil Servants were made.
“The suspects (Messrs Maina and Oronsaye were stealing money using fake pensioners.
“During investigation, we discovered that Maina who was chairman of the pension reform taskforce and the Head of Service was deeply involved in stealing pensions funds,” Rouqayya disclosed.
While being led in her evidence in chief by the prosecuting lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, the witness further revealed: “Particularly, we discovered the payment to a company called Xangi Technology Limited, a firm appointed by Maina to computerise the pension payroll, received 153 million for non-existent biometric contract. The money was withdrawn in cash and changed to dollars and handed over to Maina’s secretary.
“Xangi Technology Limited and its owner are standing trial at the FCT High Court for their involvement in the theft of pension funds.
“The company ended up inserting about 15 fake pensioners which they were engaged to computerise.
“Frederick Hamilton Limited owned by one Osa Afe, who is currently standing trial with Oronsaye who received payment for non-existent biometric contract, handed over about N250 million to Maina.
“Our investigation further revealed the existence of 6 accounts with Fidelity Bank PLC. Out of the six bank accounts, five of them were linked to Maina. There was no where on the account packages of these accounts, where the name, photographs of Maina appeared on the accounts’ documents.
“The accounts are: Nafisatu Aliyu Yeldu, Drew Construction Limited, Kangolo Dynamic Clinic Services Limited, Cluster Logistics Limited, Fatima Aliyu,” Rouqayya narrated.
Subsequently, the suit was adjourned till December 4, for continuation of trial.