Stolen N1.5bn pension funds found in Maina’s Account, says witness – Newstrends
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Stolen N1.5bn pension funds found in Maina’s Account, says witness

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The trial in absentia of Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Force Team, continued on Wednesday, with a startling revelation by a witness that N1.5bn of the pension funds was found in the account of the ex-PRTFT boss.

The witness also told Justice Okong Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja during the trial how N14 billion pension money was pilfered under Maina.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is prosecuting Maina, alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd.

Both are facing a 12-count charge of operating fictitious bank accounts, corruption, and money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

At the trial, counsel to Common Input Property and Investment Ltd (the second defendant), Adeola Adedipe told the court of his intention to disengage as the company’s counsel.

Though Prosecution counsel, M.S. Abubakar, acknowledged the receipt of the defence counsel’s disengagement application, dated November 25, 2020, and made no objection to it, Justice Abang, ruled that Adedipe should remain counsel to the second defendant by the court records.

The testimonies against Maina continued with that of the ninth prosecution witness, (PW9), Rouqayyah Ibrahim, a principal investigation officer with the EFCC in Anti Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing (AML CFT) unit of the Commission and member, Pension Fraud Team.

He stated that he knew Maina and Input Property Investment Ltd, following the invitation of the EFCC in 2010, to join in the pension verification exercise.

According to him, a payment mandate, bearing the names of several individuals, totalling N94 million was discovered during the course of the verification.

He said some of the pensioners’ names on the list were fake, for which a report was made to the EFCC by the team, leading eventually to the creation of the Pension Fraud Team.

The Pension Fraud Team, he said, wrote to about 30 banks, requesting the bank accounts of Mr. Steven Oransanye as the Head of Service.

It turned out that Oransanye at that time, operated 66 illegal bank accounts, unknown to the Accountant General.

“Our investigation revealed that there were five modus operandi that the suspect whom we were investigating at that time was using to steal money from the pension account.

“In total, we were able to deduce that N14 billion was stolen from the pension account.

“The five modus operandi were payment to fake pensioners, non-existing contracts, illegal payment to National Union of Pension NUP and illegal payment to another association called Association of Retired Federal Civil Servants.

“We discovered that the suspect will often pay companies for non-existing biometric contract and once the payment is made, they withdraw cash and hand it over and likewise payment to the two associations of NUP and Association of Retired Federal Civil Servants.

“They will withdraw the money cash and hand it over to the person who asked them to supply the account.

“Once we concluded the investigation of those who were indicted, they were charged to court, and some have been convicted,” the witness said.

He said Abdulrasheed Maina was part of those indicted and charged before Justice I. Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, but that he ran away for six years. And was arrested and charged before the present court.

The PW9 revealed that Maina as chairman, PRTT was deeply involved in stealing pension funds. One of the things discovered was the payment of N133 million for a non-existing contract to Xanjhi Technology, a company he appointed to computerize the pension payroll.

The money was withdrawn in cash, converted to dollars and handed over to Khalid Biu (PW5), a staff of Fidelity Bank and handed over to Maina’s secretary, Ann Igwe Oluchi, who is now standing trial at FCT High Court Gwagwalada.

Xanjhi Technology and its owner, Ahmed Mazangari are also standing trial for inserting about 15 fake persons into the pension payroll which they were engaged to computerize.

Said the witness, “We also discovered that Frederick Hamilton Ltd, owned by Osa Afe, presently standing trial with Steven Oransanye who received payment for a non-existing biometric contract handed over about N250 million to Maina.

“Our investigation further revealed the existence of six accounts with Fidelity Bank. Out of the six, five were linked to Abdurrasheed Maina.

“We discovered that there was nowhere in the accounts opening packages of these accounts where the name, birthday or signatures of Abdurrasheed Maina appeared.

“These account are: Nafisatu Aliyu Yeldu (PW4) Drew Construction, also an account Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Services Ltd, Cluster Logistics Ltd, Fatima Aliyu. He also had a personal account in his own name with Fidelity Bank, and also in the name of Dr. Abdullahi Faizal.

“For example Nafisatu Aliyu Yeldu’s account bears the name of Abdurrasheed Maina’s sister. It also bears her passport photograph.

“On the face of it, it appears the account belonged to her, but when we invited her for investigation, we discovered she didn’t know anything about the account, even though it contains her name and children but it was not her signature.

“She informed us that she remembers at one point that Toyin Meseke (PW2), who is a Fidelity Bank staff requested for her PHCN (power utility) bill but she wasn’t sure what he wanted it for and that was one of the documents that was used in opening the account.

“She also informed us that when she started receiving alerts, she contacted Toyin Meseke and he promised to deal with the issue.”

“The turnover in Yeldu’s account, the witness said, was over N300m.

“The analysis of the identity used in the opening of Abdullahi Faizal’s account, (one of the many variants of the name Maina used for his son and himself) showed that it was forged, even as Meseke, the account officer, confirmed that Maina had complete control over the account, though his name, signature and photograph did not appear anywhere in the account opening packages. The account had a turnover of about N1.5 billion within nine months from mostly cash deposits from unknown sources.

“We called for the statement of Drew Construction and of his Fidelity Bank, and discovered the same modus by Maina, concealing and stealing the identity of his family members, registering companies in their names, opening corporate bank account without their knowledge.

“In the case of Drew Construction, it was the name of his other sister, Fatima Abdullahi Aliyu. When she was confronted, it showed that she had no knowledge of the account, even though it bore her name and other similar information that belonged to her. The turnover was about N55 million all from cash deposits within a few months.

“We also discovered from Common Input, a company registered by Maina and his wife, using the details of his sister (PW2), taking advantage of his sister-in-law, Mairo Bashir (PW1), who deliberately allowed Maina to conceal his identity without doing the ‘Know Your Customer’ and allowing him to operate the accounts as Fatima Abdullahi. When Fatima was invited, we confronted her that her BVN was linked to Common Input and Kongolo Dynamic Cleaning Services Ltd and she confirmed that she did not know about the existence of the company and that Maina requested her to give her BVN so that she will be removed as a signatory from the company and she wasn’t aware of being a signatory of any company but innocently gave them the BVN, believing that will make her stop being a signatory of the said company.

Justice Abang adjourned the trial till December 3, 2020.

Railway

State trains: Plateau, Niger, Osun, Borno set to join Lagos, FCT 

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State trains: Plateau, Niger, Osun, Borno set to join Lagos, FCT 

Plateau, Niger, Borno and Osun states are among state governments currently making arrangements to run train services within their respective areas.

They are joining Lagos State Government and the Federal Capital Territory already operating and managing mass transit train services for the people in those places.

This is coming after the railway development and operation was moved from the exclusive legislative list to concurrent allowing states and private sector to be involved in the business.

Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, disclosed this in Lagos on Tuesday during a public lecture.

Okhiria spoke as a guest lecturer at the endowed professorial chair on Transport and Logistics at the Lagos State University (LASU) on ‘From exclusive clause to concurrent list: Potency for sustainable rail infrastructure development in Nigeria and the Lagos State Example’.

He commended the Lagos State Government and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, two subnational governments for effectively initiating and running mass transit trains.

He said it was part of the fallout of moving the railway development from the exclusive list to current as signed into law in March 23, 2023 by the ex-President Muhammadu Buhari.

Already, he said the Plateau State Government had commenced a trial run of its stage-managed train service.

Okhiria said, “Lagos State is one of the states already operating a mass transit train in Nigeria. The Lagos Blue Line is a standard gauge track operating between Mile 2 and Marina…The service has greatly reduced the traffic jam usually experienced at Marina to Orile and Mike 2 axis, especially usually during peak hours.

“Lagos State is presently at an advanced stage of commenting the Red Line from Agbado to Oyingbo. We are currently inspecting and certifying various operating equipment along the corridor for safety concerns. When the service commences, it will greatly impact the way Lagosians travel.

“Other states are already keying in before now, using our track access tool to negotiate a train service within their corridor.

“Notable among them included Plateau State Government, already operating on trial runs, Niger State (talks ongoing), Borno State (talks ongoing), Osun State Government (hire service during festivities) and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) currently restated, to mention a few.”

The NRC boss recalled that the prior to the constitutional amendments, was both a sole operator and regulator of rail activities in the country.

He cautioned states against dropping standards due to the high cost involved in building railway infrastructure, which he noted could affect safety.

Okhiria said the NRC would continue to offer necessary technical advice and other input to ensure adherence to uniform global standards in railway development and management.

He urged private investors to key into the project in the area of running trains, both passengers and freight.

Vice-Chancellor of LASU, Prof. Ibiyemi Tunji-Bello, represented by the VC Administration, Prof. Adenine Omotunde Boyo, said that the removal of railway from exclusive to concurrent list would empower the states to invest massively railway business and boost the intermodal transport system.

She commended the initiative of the Lagos State Government for completing and commencing daily commercial train service from Mile 2 to Marina.

Speaking on the professorial chair endowment in the transport studies at LASU, Prof. Dele Badejo said it was the first of its kind in transport development and sustainable development in sub-Sahara Africa.

He said, “This guest lecture is historic because it is the first time that the endowment has gathered and assembled stakeholders and intellectuals in the rail transport sub-sector to brainstorm and provide a road map for the repositioning and improving various activities and infrastructure on rail transportation.”

 

 

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PH refinery receives one million barrels of crude – Report

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Port Harcourt Refinery

PH refinery receives one million barrels of crude – Report

Following the mechanical completion of the Old Port Harcourt Refinery in December last year, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPCL) supplied one million barrels of crude oil to the plant. This supply marks the refinery’s readiness to begin refining petroleum products.

NNPCL is pushing for a phased commencement of operations, with a possible start date in August, due to increasing pressure for the plant to begin production before the end of the year. The crude oil supply was delivered in two tranches, with the latest arriving last Wednesday.

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A barrel of crude oil can produce approximately 170 liters of refined petroleum products. Therefore, the one million barrels supplied to the Port Harcourt refinery are expected to yield around 170 million liters of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and other refined products.

The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority has issued the necessary license for the refinery’s operations. The Port Harcourt Refinery Complex (PHRC) rehabilitation project costs approximately $1.5 billion and is a national initiative encompassing the Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Installation, and commissioning phases.

PH refinery receives one million barrels of crude – Report

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Carloha to gift ILOTBET UEFA EURO 2024 Winner Chery car

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Carloha to gift ILOTBET UEFA EURO 2024 winner Chery car

A lucky person will on Thursday July 18 be presented with a brand new Chery vehicle for accurately predicting the teams qualifying from the group stage of the recently concluded UEFA EURO 2024 Championship.

The winner will be rewarded with a brand new Chery Tiggo 2 Pro, a stylish and versatile cross-over vehicle, known for its exceptional performance and advanced features.

Carloha Nigeria disclosed this in a pre-event press release obtained on Monday from the company.

It is the fallout of the partnership between Carloha, the exclusive importer and franchisee of Chery vehicles in Nigeria, and ILOTBET, a leading sports business company.

A statement by Caeloha said, “This exciting promotion, which commenced on May 31, 2024, and ended on July 10, 2024, before the beginning of EURO 2024, offers fans the chance to win Tiggo 2 Pro.

“The ‘Predict and Win’ promo invites football enthusiasts to predict the exact bracket of teams qualifying from the group stage of the UEFA EURO 2024 Championship.”

The highlight of this promotion is the prize-giving ceremony of the Tiggo 2 Pro, which will take place at Carloha’s Showroom on July 18, 2024.

This gesture typifies the generosity of Chery Group and its contribution to the development of sports and also its dedication to enhancing the overall fan experience.

“We are delighted to partner with ILOTBET on this innovative promotion that combines the thrill of football with the excitement of winning a fantastic prize,” said Mr. Joseph Omokhapue, the Marketing Director of Carloha Nigeria. “The Chery Tiggo 2 Pro is a perfect match for the energy and enthusiasm of football fans, and we look forward to seeing who will drive away in this smart technology.”

This collaboration with Chery aims to enhance the experience for football fans by offering an enticing incentive to participate in the UEFA EURO 2024 Championship predictions.

According to the firm, the partnership between Chery and ILOTBET brings added excitement to the UEFA EURO 2024 Championship and offers the yearning football fans an incredible opportunity to win a top-of-the-line Chery Tiggo 2 Pro.

“Chery Motors, a leading name in the automotive industry known for its innovation and commitment to excellence, has long been synonymous with high-quality vehicles that combine style, performance, and advanced technology,” the firm added.

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