NIGERIA’S northern neighbour, Niger Republic, has blown the lid off $1.7m cash found in an apartment in its capital Niamey.
The Nigerien authorities tipped off Abuja about the cash found in the apartment believed to be owned by a former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.
At N359 to $1, the 41.7m is about N610.3m.
There is suspicion that the cash is part of the money allegedly stolen by Maina who is currently in security custody following his arrest recently by the Department of Security Services (DSS) in an Abuja hotel along with his son, Faisal.
He had allegedly sneaked into the country from Dubai apparently to avoid arrest.
Maina is under investigation for alleged mismanagement of over N24billion pension funds while in office.
Twenty-nine assets worth N1billion also suspected to be owned by him have already been seized.
The Nation gathered authoritatively that the security agencies may also probe Maina on why one of his nephews, Sadiq Abdullahi Ismaila, was almost tortured to death over how $1.7million got missing from a safe house.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is on the trail of Sadiq Abdullahi Ismaila, who released a video clip detailing his alleged travail over the missing cash.
Sources said relatives are mounting pressure on Sadiq to go underground to save Maina.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that about $1.7million cash belonging to a Nigerian was traced found in an apartment in Niamey by security agents.
The Nigerien Government alerted Nigeria’s Federal Government of the strange discovery of the cash, following which Abuja directed the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to investigate.
Preliminary investigation by the NIA and the EFCC suggests that Maina knows about it because the apartment in question used to serve as one of his hideouts in Niger Republic.
The discovery of the cash in Niamey coincided with the alleged disappearance of $1.7million cash from Maina’s safe house.
Investigators suspect that the pain of losing the $1.7million may have forced Maina to sneak into the country to look for the cash before the law caught up with him.
An authoritative source said: “The $1.7m was stashed in an apartment in Niger Republic which was being occupied by a Nigerian.
“So far, a trail of the cash by security agencies has linked Maina to the cash because the apartment was alleged to be his hideout.
“Detectives are working round the clock to uncover where the suspected pension cash was sourced and how it was ferried to Niger Republic.
“One of the clues being probed was the allegation that Faisal Maina (the son of the ex-pension reform task force chairman) moved the cash from Nigeria to the Republic of Niger.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Investigators have also discovered that Maina allegedly influenced the arrest and torture of one of his nephews, Sadiq Abdullahi Ismaila over a missing $1.7m.
“Sadiq , who later released a video clip on his ordeal, asked Maina to turn his searchlight on his son, Faisal and wife.”
In the clip, which was exclusively obtained by THE NATION, Sadiq said: “I am a nephew to the ex-pension boss, Abdulrasheed Maina. Well, a lot has been happening lately. For those of you that know me very well, a lot has been happening. I know some of you know everything that has been going on and I haven’t come out to say a word about it yet.
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“But I figure it is high time I come out to speak about it . Why? It is because I felt for the safety of the people around me, especially my family and others like that.
“Well, I was abducted by Abdulrasheed Maina (my uncle) for three days and I was tortured for something I didn’t do. He accused me of taking $1.7million of his which his son took from his house. His son and his wife too,
“I have been paying for $1.7million that is not with me. The funny thing is that this man has been sending people after me, my family and friends. And for me, I don’t really care because I have seen it all. There is nothing more he can do to me because I have already endured three good days of torture from somebody I look up to.
“He is somebody I point out to be a father figure to me; somebody who is the immediate brother to my mum. Let me make this video short. Abdulrasheed Maina, if you think your money is with me, I told you, go and meet your wife and your son.
“The $1.7million, you said you got it while you were washing toilets. I don’t know where they pay in dollars for washing toilets. I don’t know where you got the money from.
“But I know for sure the way you launder money and you know I know that. That is why you wanted me dead. I just survived because it was not my time when you asked those hoodlums, claiming to be DSS operatives to torture me for good three days. I almost died but it was not my time.
“For you now to be sending people because I have been quiet about it. I have been quiet about it because your mum (our grandmother) begged me to keep the issue as a family issue.”
Already, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced additional 29 assets in the country, worth N1, 054,000, 000 to Maina.
Some foreign assets have been located in the United Arab Emirates and other jurisdictions.
The anti-graft commission has filed an application before a High Court to place all the 29 assets under forfeiture.
The agency wants to invoke Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to seize Maina’s choice properties in the UAE and other countries.
Other items retrieved from Maina and his son, Faisal, include 31 SIM Cards of UAE, MTN, 9Mobile and Airtel; 19 handsets; one iPad and two laptops; 13 flash drives and Kentucky US ID card; UAE Certificate of Naturalization; and UAE ID card.
On December 9, 2017, the EFCC Acting Chairman Mr. Ibrahim Magu said seven properties had been seized from Maina.
The properties are: a two- storey commercial building located on Ibrahim Taiwo Road, a bungalow located on Katuru Road, and four separate properties located on Kano Road in Kawo New Extension, Kaduna. The other property which is still under construction is a set of four one-storey block of flats located at No. 5, Sokoto Road adjacent to the Zamfara State Governor’s Lodge, Kaduna.
The rest include No. 12, 11th Road, Kado Estate, Abuja; No. A5 Omenai H.O (B Close) Kado Estate; No. 9, Eneli TCM Close, (A Close) Kado Estate; No. 8, Kolo S Close (A Close) Kado Estate; Luxury apartments (eight blocks of flats; six units of three bedrooms; two units of two bedrooms) located at Plot 965, Cadastral C2, Life Camp, Abuja and a sprawling edifice located at No. 10 Hamisu Musa Road, Jabi, Abuja.
– The Nation