The trial of erstwhile chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, resumed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, with his younger brother, Khalid Aliyu, revealing that the defendant, paid N150milion in cash to acquire a choice property in Abuja.
Aliyu, who is Maina’s third relative to appear as a witness against him, told the court that the property which his brother purchased from one Alhaji Ali Sani, is located at the Life Camp area of the Federal Capital Territory.
He gave evidence as the 5th prosecution witness in the money laundering charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), preferred against the former pension reform boss.
Maina is answering to a 12-count criminal charge alongside his firm, Common Input Property & Investment Limited.
His son, Faisal, is equally facing a separate 3-count money laundering charge before the court.
The prosecution earlier produced Maina’s late brother’s wife, Mrs. Mairo Mohammed, who is a staff of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), as its star witness in the matter.
Aside from revealing that the 1st defendant deposited N3billion in the bank in 2011, the PW-1 told the court that she opened 12 different bank accounts for the ex-pension reform boss and his family members, which she said included both Naira and Dollar accounts.
Similarly, EFCC brought Maina’s younger sister, Mrs Nafisat Aliyu, to testify against him as the PW-4.
Nafisat told the court that she was not aware that her brother used her details to operate a bank account, insisting that she only got to know about it after her sister, Fatima, was arrested by the EFCC in Kaduna State.
Meanwhile, at the resumed proceeding, yesterday, Maina’s younger brother, Aliyu, who hitherto worked as a banker, confirmed to the court that her sister was indeed unaware that an account was operated in her name.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, Aliyu, who said he is presently a civil servant, explained that his elder brother, Maina, used him and his colleague he identified as Oluwatoyin Maseke, to open the account with his sister’s details.
He said: “I know the 1st defendant; he is my brother, Abdulrasheed Maina. We are from the same father and same mother.
“At some point, my brother requested me and my colleague Toyin Meseke, to open a savings account for my sister, Nafisat Aliyu, although she was not aware of the transaction.
“We proceeded to her house at Wuse 2 to collect her utility bill as part of the requirement to open an account.
“Later, Oluwatoyin Meseke collected a copy of her international passport from my brother to complete her account registration. This was because at that time, she was supposed to accompany our mother to the hospital. Her passport and that of my mother was with my brother for Visa processing.
“We particularly requested for the utility bill, but she was unaware of the account opening. “After we collected the documents for the purpose of the account opening, Oluwatoyin completed the account opening form and the account began transaction.
“Later my sister complained to me that she was receiving debit alert messages on her phone. I asked her to show the messages to me and later advised her to see my colleague Toyin to have her details excluded.
“Toyin Meseke was the one that was single-handedly managing the account. He is aware of most of the inflows and outflows from the account. Although the account after it was opened, was placed under my balance-sheet in order to boost my balance sheet”.
Continuing his Evidence-in-Chief, the witness said: “There is an account that my friend called Sani Musa who registered a company with the C.A.C. opened. The company is called Cluster Logistics.
“Though I wasn’t part of the registration, he sought my consent to add me as a Director in the firm. He initiated the idea of both of us as friends, to start a small scale business. My brother was aware of our intention to start the small scale business.
“Afterwards, the 1st defendant requested to use the company for verification exercise, which we agreed to. But he directed that one Abubakar Mustapha should be the sole signatory.
“Even though Abubakar Mustapha was the identification on the account opening form, the 1st defendant was the signatory.
“There is a third account by Dr. Faisal Abdullahi. The 1st defendant also requested an account by Dr. Faisal Abdullahi be opened as part of investment account for his farm proceeds.
“A man by the name Abdullahi, with a drivers licence as his identification card, provided me with documents for the account opening. The signatory to the account was also the 1st defendant”, the witness added.
On how the former pension boss bought the choice property, the witness said: “The 1st defendant sent me on errand to one Alhaji Ali Sani for payment of a property located at Life Camp. The property was of the value of N150million.
“The 1st defendant gave me the money in cash to deliver to Alhaji Sani. He gave me the money at his residence in Kado Estate, Abuja.
North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.
Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?
Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.
2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”
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