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‘I wasn’t paid to defend him’ — witness who consults for Maina tells court

‘I wasn’t paid to defend him’ — witness who consults for Maina tells court
March 09
17:58 2021

Ngozika Ihuoma, a defence witness in the trial of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), has told a federal high court in Abuja that he was not paid to testify for the defendant.

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Ihuoma said this on Tuesday while under cross-examination by Mohammed Abubakar, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“I was not paid money to come and testify in court,” Ihuoma said.

He also admitted publicly defending Maina in November 2017 on a television program tagged ‘Focus Nigeria’, which was aired on AIT.

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When asked if he was engaged in image laundering for the first defendant, the witness said: “No.”

“I don’t know him being involved in money laundering so I would not have been laundering his image as a person,” he said.

“I have always defended him as chairman, PRTT. I am not a member of his personal staff neither a blood relation but we have always met in the course of PRTT.

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“I am from Imo and he is from Biu in Borno.”

Ihuoma, however, admitted receiving over N30 million from Maina through the Union Bank account of his firm, Crincad & Cari Nigeria Limited, on December 10, 2013.

“Upon receipt of the money, I withdrew N50, 000 cash,” he said.

“I made a transfer of N5 million to my personal account and also made a transfer of N10 million to my client in Sterling Bank and N850, 000 to my lawyer as legal fee.”

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Upon further cross-examination, the witness admitted that he was arrested on December 11, 2015, while trying to make a withdrawal of N2 million at Union Bank Maitama.

He was thereafter detained and later moved to another police station in Lagos in respect of the N30 million which he received from the defendant.

“You were subsequently charged in Igbosere magistrate court in charge no: Q/47/2013,” the prosecution counsel asked.

“Yes, it is an ongoing matter,” Ihuoma replied.

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He agreed that only N140, 000 was in his account before he received the N30 million.

He, however, denied that the money was stolen from the coffers of the National Crop Research Institute

He said while some of the monies he received were payment for his work as a consultant to the PRTT, some were for legal fees incurred during litigation in a suit involving Maina at the national industrial court.

“Yes on March 7, 2014, I collected money in furtherance of my work as a consultant to PRTT,” he said.

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“I received the sum of N50, 000 in respect to the ongoing matter at the national industrial court.

“I received N100, 000 in 2014 from Khalid who is Maina’s younger brother, in furtherance of the national industrial court matter to bring Maina back to service.”

Meanwhile, the court has issued a subpoena compelling Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), and Ibrahim Magu, former acting chairman of the EFCC, to testify in the case.

The matter has been adjourned to March 10 for continuation.

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