The Abuja Federal High Court on Wednesday ordered the revocation of the bail of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the now defunct Reformed Pensions Task Force (PRTT).
Judge Okon Abang, who issued the order in a ruling, also issued an arrest warrant for Maina “anywhere he is seen.”
Maina (first defendant) was indicted before Judge Abang, on October 25, 2019, by the EFCC together with his son, Faisal, and the firm Common Input Property and Investment Ltd.
Although he faces 12 charges bordering on money laundering, he has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The former reformed head of pensions was released in July from Kuje prison nine months after his arrest.
On November 25, 2019, the court admitted Maina to bail in the amount of 1 billion naira with two bonds that must be serving senators.
The judge ruled that the two bonds, which must be prepared for a bond of N500 million each, must always be in court with the defendant on each postponed date.
He added that the bonds must not have a criminal case pending in any court and must have fully developed real estate in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II, Katampe or the central business districts of Abuja, with the certificate of occupancy attached as evidence.
It also ruled that senators, although they would always go to court on each postponed date, legislators only had to come and sign a judicial record that would be opened in the registry, among other terms.
The judge said conditions depended on accusations by the anti-corruption agency that Maina had multiple international passports and that prior to his arrest, he sneaked into the country from the Republic of Niger, among others.
But due to his inability to meet the terms of the bond, Judge Abang, on January 29, further varied the conditions of the bond.
Abang reduced Maina’s bail condition from 1 billion naira to 500 million naira on bail for the same amount that a serving senator must be as opposed to the earlier order to present two sitting senators.
Senator Ali Ndume, who represents the Borno Sur Senate District, where Maina comes from, decided to testify in an affidavit to always take it to court on each postponed date or he will lose the N500 million bond.
However, after Maina’s release, he had been absent from court since the trial resumed on September 29, although Ndume was always in court.
The senator, on October 2, had told the court that he did not know the whereabouts of Maina.
At the resumption of the trial on Wednesday, EFCC lawyer Mohammed Abubakar said that although the matter was for further cross-examination of PW6, “in view of the absence of the first accused (Maina) in court, we request that the matter proceed in your absence. “
“This application is submitted pursuant to Section 352 (4) of ACJA 2015.
“It is our humble presentation that of this provision, there are only two conditions that must be met for the grant of the request.
“First, the defendant who is absent from court is on bail and is absent without a reasonable explanation.
“Second, there will be two court hearings without the presence of the defendant and without a reasonable explanation,” he said.
Abubakar argued that Maina was released on bail by this court and, regardless of the court order, had been absent without reasonable explanation for at least four postponements.
According to him, the first defendant was absent from court on September 29, September 30, October 2 and October 19.
“We maintain that on these four occasions, this court had ruled that the absence of the first defendant from the court in those days was without a reasonable explanation,” he recalled.
The lawyer also requested the revocation of his bond and the issuance of a court order for his arrest.
Abubakar further requested that Ndume, who was representing him as surety, waive the surety and ownership of the land, and that if he could not comply, he should be held until he could fulfill the terms.
He said he relied on Section 179 (1) of the Criminal Justice Administration Act (ACJA) of 2015 to submit the application.
“I trust to make this presentation on the record of this court and on the presentation made by my learned colleague on the last postponed date.
“We urge this honorable court to grant these requests,” he said.
Mark Agbo, an attorney for Maina, said that while he did not object to the anti-bribery agency’s request that his client be tried in absentia, he did not agree with requests for bail revocation and bond forfeiture. .
“We presented that this is a court of record and that an application should have been filed regarding the revocation of the bond and the confiscation of the bond,” he said.
However, Judge Abang intervened and told him that he had ruled on that before.
“I have ruled on this on the last postponed date that the request can arrive orally. So don’t take our advice, “he said.
Agbo then offered an apology for her presentation.
The judge then ordered the clerk to ask Ndume about Maina’s whereabouts.
“My lord, since the court postponed the case on October 19 and graciously handed me over until today to present the 1st defendant, I continued looking for him, seeking the help of the security agencies and any person who could give me intelligence on his whereabouts but no I was able to locate it.
“In my endeavor, I conducted a search in the Republic of Niger, where he was once said to reside.
“But there was no evidence that he was there. I also try to reach out to his mother, who is said to live in Kaduna, through his uncle, who was his bail when he was in prison and assured me that he would be in court.
“I also approach his son, who promised me, as if sitting at the end, that his father would be here. But it did not appear.
“My lord, I continue to search for him because I was a surety and it is my responsibility to take him to court,” the legislator told the court.
He vowed to continue the search for Maina if the court accepts his request.
Ndume, however, begged the court to give him the opportunity to bring his legal team in on the next postponed date to defend him based on the EFCC’s request.
“Now that the prosecutors are submitting an application that affects me, I want to appeal that that part that affects me be delivered to me so that I can inform my lawyers so that they represent me in this honorable court,” he said.
In reaction, Abubakar, who reluctantly agreed with Ndume, said that since the senator knew the session was approaching, he should have come along with his legal team.
“Although the matter was postponed from October 19 until today, which is a period of one month
“Bail was coming to this court this morning and I knew that I had not found the first defendant, I should have made the necessary arrangements for legal representation.
“However, although he is not a defendant for the general interest of justice. I will concede it reluctantly, only insofar as it relates to your own problem, ”he said.
Additionally, Agbo asked the court to give Ndume another chance to arrange for his legal representation.
In his ruling, Judge Abang said it was disheartening that Joe Gadzama, SAN, who previously represented Maina, was not in court to see that the defendant he sought had jumped bail.
“The court took a risk by granting bail to the first defendant.
“I have to consider the competing rights of the parties when posting a bond,” he said.
The judge reiterated that this was the reason why he gave the condition that a senator who has an interest in the affairs of the country must act as bail for Maina.
He said the legislator even filed an affidavit on May 5 to always present the defendant in court.
“He was not in court four times in a row. It can’t be like this forever, ”he said.
The judge said the court’s decision to have four postponements early was not due to cowardice but rather to maturity.
“The defendant cannot demand a ransom from the court,” he added.
Therefore, he accepted the EFCC’s request to revoke Maina’s bail and ordered his arrest warrant.
“The bond is revoked and an arrest warrant is issued against his arrest anywhere he is found, even off the coast of this country,” he said.
Judge Abang, who allowed Maina’s trial to continue in absentia, gave Ndume the opportunity to bring his lawyer to court on the next postponed date.
The judge then adjourned the matter until November 23 at the request of Senator Ndume to prove why he should not be sent to prison and why he should not lose bail.