A Federal High Court, Lagos, has granted a request of Registered Trustees of the Centre for Law and Civil Culture, a Non-Govermental Organization (NGO), for the judicial review of an order of Mandamus compelling the Attorney-General of Federation, (AGF) Mr. Abubakar Malami and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release information on the properties recovered from Mr. Abdul Rashid Maina, the former Chairman of of the Pension Reform Task Force.
The court also granted the NGO time extension in which it may file ex-parte application to seek the court’s leave for an order of mandamus against Mr. Malami and EFCC over the recovered items from the former Pension Reform Task Force boss.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, granted the request while delivering ruling in an exparte application of matter of judicial review marked FHC/L/CS/756/2019, filed and argued by the NGO’s counsel, A. Imran and Gazah T. Olalekan.
The order as cited by our medium was made on June 29, 2019.
In granting the application, Justice Oguntoyinbo held: “upon reading through the said Motion Ex-parte, a verifying Affidavit of four (4) paragraph deposed to by Gazah Toheeb Olalekan, male, Muslim. Nigerian, Legal Practitioner, and Written Address signed by A. Imran Esq., counsel to the Applicant, all filed at the Federal High Court, Registry Ikoyi, Lagos on the 8th day of May, 2019,
“After hearing A. Imran Esq. with T. O
Gazah Esq., counsel to the Applicant move in terms of motion paper. And having carefully considered the Application and submission of counsel, it is hereby ordered, that time is extended within which the applicant may file ex-parte application seeking leave for an order of mandamus against the respondents.
“That leave is granted to the Applicant to file application for an order of Mandamus against the Respondents to compel the Respondents to release information as to
the status and position of the landed properties, monies and other valuables recovered from Abdulrashid Maina, the ex chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force as contained in the Applicant’s letter of 7th January, 2019.
(b) 270 landed properties, monies, exotic cars and other valuables recovered by Abdulrasheed Maina from the pension looters which property and valuables are kept In the custody of the Respondents”.
Further hearing of the matter has been adjourned to October 9.
In urging the court for the granted orders, the NGO through its counsel had approached the court through an he matter of application for judicial review the application for an order of mandamus to compel the respondents to accede to its freedom of information’s request, asking for the status and present position of all the properties recovered by and from AbdulRashid Maina, the chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, as contained it its letter dated January 7, 2019.
Attached with the NGO’s ex-parte motion dated December 28, 2018, to the EFCC’s chairman, requesting to know the present state of the agency’s investigation on the recovered items.
The NGO’s letter reads in part: “the Centre has noted with serious concern that exactly a year after the allegations and counter allegations that characterized the reinstatement, promotion and subsequent termination of the service of Mr. AbdulRashid Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, by President Muhammadu Buhari and the subsequent re-assurance by your Commission that he a still being wanted by EFCC, nothing seems to be happening.
“Consequently, we have been directed by the Centre to request the following under listed information from your Commission; Whether the facts and circumstances surrounding the disappearance. reappearance, reinstatement and subsequent promotion of Mr. AbdulRashid Maina, former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform in Nigeria, who had earlier been declared wanted by the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) do not constitute sufficient grounds to arrest, arraign and prosecute him as well as other government officials whose actions or omissions led to his surreptitious reinstatement?
Whether the declaration of Mr. AbdulRashid Maina, former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform in Nigeria, as a wanted person by your commission stands or same has been revoked”?
The NGO further stated in the letter that ” from the investigation carried out so far by your Commission in respect of the fraud that characterized the administration of Pension Reform in Nigeria, particularly under Mr. AbdulRashid Maina, kindly confirm the Appropriateness or otherwise of these allegations: “the ad-hoc Committee set up by the Nigerian Senate to investigate the allegations levied against AbdulRashid Maina, chaired by Senator Emanuel Paulker, had told the Senate on Thursday, November, 23, 2017 that Mr. Maina had recovered 222 properties from pension suspects in Abuja and other major cities across the country as reported by Premium Times, an online media outfit. Mr. Abdul Rashid Maina himself has also claimed to have assisted the government of Federal Republic of Nigeria to recover a sum of N1.3 Trillion through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, AGF, Abubakar Malami.
“The AGF had, while appearing before the Senate Panel investigating the pension reform regimes, accused the EFCC of failing to account for the recovered properties in your custody. According to the Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami ”what happened to the monies recovered from the syndicate? What about 270 properties comprising of real estate and motor vehicles, one of which is a mansion worth N1Bn situate at no. 42. Gana Street, Maitamua, Abuja allegedly given to a Senior Lawyer”.
“The Honourable Attorney-General and Minister of Justice concluded by accusing EFCC of ”perceived compromises in the investigation, prosecution and charges of the real syndicate over the pension related mattets,” (Punch newspaper November 24, 2017).
“According to an investigative team led by one of your staffs, Habibu Aliyu, it was discovered that Maina allegedly paid $2m cash in just a day to acquire the property at 10, Halisu Musa Road, Abuja from one Adamu Modibo while he was the Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team. The EFCC marked the house as a property under investigation but all the marks were removed and the walls reported (Daily Post October 23, 2017)
“If the answers to question three above are negative, then what is the current status of the pension fraud assets in EFCC inventory, which according to you were recovered as a result of independent investigation by the commission?
“These are the properties recovered from Abdul Rashid Maine (Premium Times Monday, October 15, 2017); No 12 and 11 Road, Kado Estate, Abuja; No A5/ HO/ B/+ Kado Estate, Abuja; No 9, TCM Close A+ Kado Estate, Abuja; No 8, Ologun Close A+, Kado Estate, Abuja; uxury Apartments; eight Plot of Land, six set of three bedrooms, two set of two bedrooms, located at plot 965 Pedestrian, C2 Life Camp, Abuja; the property at 10, Halisu Musa Road, jabi, Abuja purchased at $2 million”.
Other properties as listed in the letter include: a two Storey Commercial Building at Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna; a bungalow at Katum Road, Kaduna; four separate properties located on kano road, kawo new extension, Kaduna; Four set of one storey building located at No 5 Sokoto Road, Opposite Zamfara State Governor’s Lodge, Kaduna”.
The NGO also stated that part from the above listed properties, it also requested for the current status seized by the EFCC that are linked to the Maina.
The NGO also stated that the anti-graft agency had traced six different accounts solely operated by Mr. AbdulRashid Maina, which had a total inflow of over N2.7 billion with 95 percent of the deposits deal in cash and the sum of N15 Billion found in the account of Faiz Abdullahi’s, the son of AbdulRashid Maina. While asked for the total sum in other four accounts linked to Maina’s Closta Logistics Limited; Kangaro Dynamic Clean Limited; Investment and construction Limited and Nafisa Aliyu’s account
The NGO also asked for the current status and position of the criminal case instituted against Mr. AbdulRashid Maina, Oronsaye, Osarenklhoe Afe, Fredrick Hamilton and B Global Services Limited before a Federal High Court on July 21, 2015 as reported by the media particularly, Premium times.
The NGO also asked for the EFCC desire and wiliness to arrest, arraign and prosecute AbdulRashid Maina or weather his case has been swept under the carpet considering that the commission has kept undignified silence in respect of the matter.