The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division has upheld the conviction of Faisal, the son of the jailed former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, for conspiracy and money laundering.
In a judgment delivered on Thursday, a three-member panel of justices of the appellate court however reduced his term of imprisonment from 14 years to seven years on the grounds that he is a first-time offender.
In the lead judgment read by Justice Ugochukwu Anthony Ogakwu, the Appellate Court held that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja was right to have convicted Faisal.
The Appellate Court was of the view that being a first-time offender, the trial court ought not to have handed the convict the maximum punishment under the law.
It will be recalled that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, in October last year a convicted and sentenced Faisal, to 14 years imprisonment.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, found Faisal guilty on a three-count money laundering charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) preferred against him.
It held that the anti-graft agency successfully established that Faisal, operated a fictitious bank account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) through which his father, Maina, laundered the sum of N58.1 million.
The court noted that the said fund which was deposited into the account that was operated in the name of Alhaji Faisal Farm 2, was sequentially withdrawn by the defendant and his father, between October 2013 and June 2019.
Justice Abang said he was satisfied that the EFCC proved all the essential ingredients of the charge, stressing that the defendant reasonably ought to have known that inflows into the bank account formed proceeds of an unlawful act of corruption by his father.
While the court sentenced the defendant to five years in count 1 and 3 of the charge, he was sentenced to 14 years on count 2 of the charge.
The court ordered that the 21-year-old Faisal, who had since June 24, 2020, failed to appear for his trial, should be arrested anywhere he is found in Nigeria and remanded in any Correctional Service Center to serve his jail term immediately.
It further held that in the event that the defendant traced to anywhere outside the country, the Federal Government, “shall legally or lawfully commence extradition proceeds to bring him into the country to serve the jail term.”
The court ordered that the company through which the fund was laundered, Alhaji Faisal Farm 2, be wound up, with funds in it forfeited to the government.
ALSO READ FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
The court had on November 24, 2020, issued a bench warrant for security agencies to arrest Faisal wherever he is found, shortly after his bail was revoked.
EFCC closed its case against him after it called three witnesses that testified in the matter, alleging that Maina’s son had sometimes between 2013 and 2019, received the sum of N58.11million, being proceeds of a corrupt act by his father.
He was also accused of failing to properly declare his assets before the EFCC.
Maina is currently serving eight years jail term at the Kuje Correctional Center in Abuja.