Ngozika Ihuoma, a defence witness, on Friday, said the EFCC mismanaged the assets and cash recovered by the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT) chaired by Abdulrasheed Maina.
Ihuoma, a management consultant, whose firm, Crincad & Cari Nigeria Ltd was contracted by the PRTT for consultancy service, told Justice Okon Abang when he was being cross examined by the EFCC lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar.
“In the course of your evidence before this honourable court, you did say that the EFCC mismanaged the purported recovered assets and money,” Abubakar asked.
“I stand by that because it is fact that EFCC mismanaged both cash and assets handed over to them,” he said.
Again, when asked if he did testify that Maina was being persecuted by the ongoing trial, the witness said: “Yes, I stand by that that Maina is on persecution.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Abang on Feb. 25, ordered Maina to open his defence in the charge preferred against him by the EFCC after the prosecution closed its case.
Though Maina had intended to apply for a no-case submission, the judge foreclosed his right to make the application on Dec. 21, 2020, ruling that the pension reformed boss had adequate time and facility to make the submission but failed to do so.
During the cross examination, Ihuoma, who affirmed that the PRTTT led by Maina recovered money worth N282 billion and property worth N1.63 trillion within 18 months of its operations, also admitted saying that about N74 billion recovered was used to fund 2012 Budget.
He restated that the former pension reformed boss had ensured conviction of pension thieves.
Abubakar told Ihuoma that in the course of his evidence, he testified about internal workings, processes and procedures of organisations such as the EFCC, National Assembly Presidential Villa, among others.
The witness did not deny tendering three documents before the court which were admitted in evidence.
The documents include the judgment of Justice Adamu Bello, an EFCC memo and a letter of appointment from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF).
Ihuoma, however, agreed that he was neither a party to the Justice Bello judgment nor the judge in the matter and that he was not the author of the EFCC memo.
The witness added that though he was not the recipient of the letter from the OHCSF, the letter was forwarded to me.
“I tendered the document to back up my evidence. I want the country to believe my story by tendering those documents,” he said.
The witness, who affirmed that the PRTT also recovered N181 billion in its first 11 months of operations, admitted that he did not tender any document to support his claim.
When the EFCC lawyer asked him if he tendered a list of the 222 property and N1.63 trillion recovered before the court, Ihuoma said: “I have not tendered a list of those 222 property in my evidence in chief for now.”
In addition, he admitted that he had not produced the evidence to prove the value of those property valued at N1.63 trillion.
“We have not tendered the document in a way,” he said.
When the anti-graft agency’s lawyer asked him that he was yet to produce the document to prove that the N282 billion was warehoused at Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) based on his evidence, the witness said: “It is not in contest, though I have not.”
He admitted that there was no document before the court for now to prove that N74 billion was used in funding the 2012 Budget.
He acknowledged that though he said in his evidence that in 2016, Maina gave intelligence report to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and National Security Adviser in Dubai, leading to the recovery of N1.3 trillion, he did not tender a copy of the intelligence report.
When Abubakar asked him that he did not tender any document to prove his claim that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) commended the PRTT for the biometric data capture of pensioners in Diasporea, Ihuoma gave a negative response.
Abubakar also asked the witness that he testified before the court that he petitioned the AGF against EFCC and its former acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, for alleged mismanagement of recovered property and that the petition led to Justice Salami Judicial Commission of Inquiry but that he did not tender the petition, the instrument establishing the panel or document to show that the commission was set up as a result of his petition, and Ihuoma admitted he had not tendered any document to that effect.
“You claimed that Magu confessed before the panel to have mismanaged the property but you did not tender the proceedings of Salami panel to prove this,” he asked.
“Yes, I said the Salami panel indicted Magu but I have not tendered a document before the court,” he responded.
Justice Abang adjourned the matter until March 9, March 10 and March 11 for further cross examination of the defence witness.
NAN reports that Maina (1st defendant) was arraigned before Abang, on Oct. 25, 2019, by the EFCC alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd (2nd defendant).
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the 12-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.(NAN)