PENSION FUNDS LOOTING: AGAIN COURT VARIES MAINA’S BAIL CONDITIONS

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday further varied the bail conditions granted the former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina.

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The court on November 25, 2019 had admitted the former pension chairman to bail at N1 billion.

Justice Okon Abang, who gave the ruling, also ordered Mr Maina to produce two sureties who must be serving senators.

The judge said the two lawmakers must not be standing criminal trial in any court in the country.

He also ruled that the two sureties, who must be prepared for an N500 million bond each, must always be in court with the defendant at each adjourned date.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how on January 28, Justice Abang reduced the bail bond from N1 billion to N500 million after Mr Maina on January 13 told the court that he could not meet the stringent conditions of the bail.

Still not able to meet the adjusted bail conditions, Mr Maina in an application dated February 10, asked the court to further vary the conditions.

But in a ruling on Mr Maina’s bail variation application on April 29, Justice Abang held that the former PRTT chairman failed to put sufficient material before the court to prove that he was unable to meet his bail condition, which includes a serving senator as surety.

Dissatisfied

Dissatisfied with the position of the court, again Mr Maina’s lawyer, Joe Gadzama, filed another application seeking further variation of the bail conditions.

Mr Gadzama had informed the court last Tuesday that the senator representing Borno south, Ali Ndume, has agreed to act as a surety for Mr Maina.

He, however, noted that the condition that requires the surety having a certificate of occupancy of a landed property in Abuja has also not been met.

Mr Maina’s lawyer then urged the court to accept a “certified irrevocable power of attorney” issued to Ndume in the name of one Lawal Ahmed, the previous owner of the land.

Ruling on the application on Monday, Justice Abang said since the defendant has complied with the main condition of producing a surety, the court would accept the irrevocable power of attorney to replace the certificate of occupancy.

“On compassionate grounds, the court would accept the irrevocable power of attorney to replace the certificate of occupancy with respect of the property pledged as security for the bail of the defendant,” he said.

However, Mr Abang refused to vary the condition that requires the surety to attend trial with the defendant and sign a register of attendance on every date fixed for trial.

He said since Mr Ndume already deposed to an affidavit dated May 5, stating that he would abide by the conditions, no other deponent can come before the court claiming that the surety cannot fulfill the condition of making appearances in court.

The defendant’s wife, Laila Maina, had deposed to an affidavit stating that the surety said he would not be able to attend trial with the accused.

But in his ruling, the judge held that the affidavits “amounts to documentary hearsay and cannot be used to set aside facts deposed to by the surety.”

He urged Mr Maina not to jump bail being aware of the sacrifice being made by the surety.

“However, in the unlikely event that the defendants jump bail, the court will be left with no other option either to order the remand of the distinguished senator Ali Ndume at a correctional centre pending when the first defendant is produced or the court shall order the surety to forfeit the penal sum upon default being made,” Justice Abang ruled.

The matter has been adjourned to July 2 for continuation of trial.

Mr Maina is accused of diverting N100 billion of pension funds and is facing trial for alleged money laundering. He is being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 12-count charge and is also accused of operating fictitious accounts and carrying out other fraudulent activities.

The former PRTT chairman, who went into hiding for almost two years, was arrested by the State Security Service last year.

The SSS handed over Mr Maina to the EFCC, which had declared him wanted for over a year.

His son, Faisal, who was arrested alongside him in September, is accused of operating an account he used to divert various sums of money, including N58 million.

The two men were arraigned by the EFCC on October 25 on separate charges. They pleaded not guilty

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