NICL scam Moonis sent behind bars | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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NICL scam Moonis sent behind bars

Amir Riaz

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday dismissed a pre-arrest bail petition of Pakistan Muslim League-Q leader, Moonis Elahi, in connection with the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) land scam.

Interestingly, the FIA officials did not arrest Moonis as he came out from the courtroom and left the LHC premises, along with his party workers. Later, after a couple of hours he surrendered himself to the authorities at the FIA offices at Temple Road.

According to a PML-Q media release, the FIA lodged Ch Moonis Elahi in a lockup and was not allowing anybody to meet him. A division bench comprising LHC Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry and Justice Ijazul Ahsan allowed interim pre-arrest bail to Moonis on March 10 for seven days and summoned the FIA investigation officer.

Moonis had filed two petitions seeking bail and challenging an order of the trial court, which issued his non-bailable arrest warrants after submission of an interim challan by the investigating agency.

Senior lawyer SM Zafar appeared on behalf of Moonis and pleaded that his client was involved into the case with mala fide intention, as he had no role in the NICL land scam. The counsel said the FIA started proceedings against Moonis merely on a statement of his manager, Maalick.

He contended that a case was registered on Oct 12, 2010, under Section 409, 420 and 468 of PPC against Mohsin Habib Warraich by the FIA on a statement of then secretary commerce, Zafar Mehmood, regarding the purchase of land by the NICL at Mouza Toor Warraich.

He submitted that according to the case management, the NICL had paid price to the selling party without getting the land mutated in its favour. Moonis submitted that after the commencement of investigation, 803 kanals land was returned to the seller, who deposited entire sale price of Rs 1,686,300,000.

He pointed out that two separate FIRs were lodged against Moonis, alleging that his manger Maalick opened forged accounts in Allied Bank Limited, Mohsin Warraich deposited Rs. 320 million – Rs 220 million in first account and Rs 100 million in the second account.

He said Maalick, and bank employees – Rizwan Bhatti and Khalil Ahmad – are under arrest. He said Maalick had told the FIA that he opened an account on the instruction of Moonis and an amount of Rs 320 million was allegedly transferred to it.

He said later Maalick changed his statement before a magisterial court, but the FIA was still dragging Moonis in the case and submitted an interim challan in the trial court without having cogent evidence against him. He said the FIA had no independent incriminating material available against Moonis. He argued that Additional Director General FIA Zafar Qureshi, present in the court, is the only person who alleged that money was given to Moonis Elahi. He said Qureshi had nourished animosity against the Chaudhrys, as he stated before the Supreme Court that he was facing life threats from the family.

He reiterated that neither witnesses supported the FIA stance that Moonis received alleged money nor any bank document bore his signature.

Zafar said investigation officer had written in its report that only evidence available against Moonis was statement of Maalick. He said the IO wrote in his favour, but his supervisor (Zafar Qureshi) was biased against him.

Upon this, the CJ remarked that the IO was a subordinate to Qureshi and if he is influencing investigation, then why could he not obtain favourable report from the IO. Zafar said the main accused of the case Mohsin Warraich was still at large and till to date no claimant had came forward to join the investigation. He pointed out that all embezzled amount of Rs 1.68 billion had been recovered and returned to the NICL.

He said the FIA had sought details of all assets of Moonis and his family through a questionnaire, given to him during investigation. He said it would open a Pandora’s box as Moonis and his family members had already disclosed his assets when they contested election. He said the FIA is an investigation agency, and not a recovery agency.

ADG Zafar Qureshi told the court that through forged account, a land of 20 kanal 2 marla was purchased against payment of Rs. 1.6 billion, but its actually price was estimated at Rs 560 million. He said during investigation it was found that an additional amount of Rs 500 million had gone to Moonis Elahi, as it was transferred to the account of his manager Maalick. He said owner of Adil Traders was also involved in the scam and was found to be an employee of the Punjab Sugar Mills. After his arrest, he stated he was a poor man and he had nothing to do with embezzlement of money. He said only his identity card was used in the scam.

He said he also recorded the statements of arrested bank mangers, Rizwan Bhatti and Khalil Ahmad, and they alleged that they opened the account on instruction of Maalick, as he was a big client of the bank.

After hearing the arguments, the court dismissed his bail application.

A good number of PML-Q supporters were also present outside the court, who burst into chants in favour of Moonis, who remained sitting inside the courtroom for a while. A party lawyer, Amir Rawan, used filthy language against Zafar Qureshi. He was escorted by Rangers outside the LHC premises from judges’ gate. The FIA officials deliberately did not arrest Moonis on the LHC premises to avoid possible clash with the party supporters. Moonis had agreed that he would surrender himself a couple of hours later, which he did.

Talking to media on the occasion, Moonis Elahi rejected all allegations and claimed that he would confront all cases filed against him. He said a conspiracy was being hatched against him.

Talking to journalists at the FIA offices, Moonis said with Allah’s blessings, he would be acquitted honourably soon. He said those should be ashamed of themselves who had alleged that the PML leaders met President Zardari to ask for his acquittal. “I have full faith in the court, but not in the FIA or any such organisation,” he added.

Moonis Elahi looked confident when he stepped out of his car outside the Lahore FIA office, where he was greeted by a very large number of highly charged party workers, who chanted slogans in his favour. There are reports of rallies staged in protest against Moonis Elahi’s arrest throughout Punjab including Multan, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Wazirabad, Kamoke, Bhai Phero, Phool Nagar, Gujrat, Okara, Sheikhupura, Kasur and Sargodha.

The biggest protest rally was brought out at the Kamla Chowk Lahore where thousands of Moonis Elahi’s supporters turned out. The protesters staged a sit-in and burnt tyres.
Source: The News