Fidelity Bank headed by Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe allegedly aided pension thief, Abdulrasheed Maina’s to defraud Nigerian pensioners.
On Monday, a Federal High Court judge, Okon Abang, uncovered the role of Fidelity Bank Plc in the N2 billion pension scam perpetrated by Abdulrasheed Maina, the former chairwoman of the disbanded Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT).
Justice Abang found the former pension boss guilty of persuading Fidelity Bank employees to open bank accounts for him without performing the necessary due diligence. He was found guilty of using the identities of his family members without their knowledge to mask his genuine identity as a signatory to accounts opened at Fidelity Bank.
Maina’s fraudulent actions, which were assisted and expedited by Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe led Fidelity Bank Plc, “ruined” many properties in the country, including those of the bank’s clients. Mr. Abang, the judge, stated that Fidelity Bank Plc should have been charged alongside Mr. Maina for acting as “conduits” for the stolen funds.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Maina with using false names to register and manage different bank accounts at Fidelity Bank Plc in the charge FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019. He also enlisted the help of his banker cousins to set up phony bank accounts and funnel illicit monies via them.
In November 2020, the ninth prosecution witness, Rouqayyah Ibrahim, a principal investigation officer with the EFCC’s Anti Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing (AML CFT) unit and member of the Commission’s Pension Fraud Team, stated that he knew Maina and Input Property Investment Ltd after the EFCC invited them to participate in the pension verification exercise in 2010.
One of the things revealed was a payment of N133 million to Xanjhi Technology, a company he hired to computerize the pension payroll, for a non-existent contract.
The money was taken out in cash, converted to dollars, and given to Khalid Biu (PW5), a Fidelity Bank employee, who then passed it over to Maina’s secretary, Ann Igwe Oluchi, who is currently on trial at the FCT High Court Gwagwalada.
Xanjhi Technology and its owner, Ahmed Mazangari, are also on trial for computerizing the pension payroll and injecting roughly 15 bogus people into it.
It was also revealed that Abdulrasheed Maina had six accounts with Fidelity Bank, five of which were related to him.
We observed that the name, birthday, or signatures of Abdulrasheed Maina did not appear anywhere in the account opening documentation of these accounts.
Nafisatu Aliyu Yeldu (PW4) Drew Construction, Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Services Ltd, Cluster Logistics Ltd, Fatima Aliyu, he also held a personal account with Fidelity Bank in his own name, as well as in the name of Dr. Abdullahi Faizal.
“For example, Abdulrasheed Maina’s sister’s account belongs to Nafisatu Aliyu Yeldu. It also contains her passport and a photograph of her. On the surface, it looks like the account belonged to her, but when we invited her to come in for an examination, we discovered that she had no knowledge of the account, despite the fact that it contained her name and children but not her signature.
She told us that Toyin Meseke (PW2), a Fidelity Bank employee, sought her PHCN (power utility) bill at one time, although she wasn’t sure what he wanted it for, and that it was one of the documents used to open the account.
She further stated that when she began receiving notifications, she phoned Toyin Meseke, who promised to take care of the problem. ” According to the witness, Yeldu’s account had a turnover of about N300 million.
Even though Meseke, the account officer, confirmed that Maina had complete control over the account, despite the fact that his name, signature, and photograph did not appear anywhere in the account opening packages, the identity used in the opening of Abdullahi Faizal’s account (one of the many variants of the name Maina used for his son and himself) was forged.
Within nine months, the account had a turnover of around N1.5 billion, largely from cash deposits from unknown sources.
“We requested Drew Construction’s and his Fidelity Bank’s statements, and uncovered Maina’s method of concealing and stealing his family members’ identities, forming firms in their names, and opening a corporate bank account without their knowledge.”
Justice Abang said that “Fidelity Bank Plc led by Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe should have been charged with the convict for fraudulent activities” and that “their license should have been revoked.”
Justice Abang further claimed that Fidelity Bank Plc “provided the channels through which the convict (Mr Maina) cheated the federal government,” adding that “the proceeds of criminal actions benefited the bank.”
He said the bank failed to carry out due diligence in determining the genuine identity of the people in whose names Mr. Maina opened and ran the bogus bank accounts.
The Nigerian government and anti-corruption agency are under pressure from the Nigerian people to construct a case, prosecute, and revoke Fidelity Bank’s operating license in order to demonstrate a more credible battle against graft in Nigeria.