Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Pension Fraud: Abdulrasheed Maina’s trial stalled

Justice Okon Abang was unavailable to hear the charges against the former pension reform manager.

and • October 6, 2020
Abdulrasheed Maina
Abdulrasheed Maina in court used to illustrate the story [Photo credit: The Trent]

The trial of Abdulrasheed Maina, who led the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), has again stalled following the absence of trial judge Okon Abang on Tuesday.

Hearing on the N2 billion money laundering trial was scheduled to continue at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court Tuesday morning having been adjourned on Monday due to Mr. Abang’s unavailability.

The court registrar had announced that the judge was unavailable and said the trial would continue the next day (Tuesday), only for the court not to sit again.

The EFCC had arraigned Mr. Maina before Mr. Abang on October 25, 2019, alongside his son, Faisal; and firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd.

Mr. Maina in court [Photo credit: BBC Hausa]

Mr. Maina, who faces 12 counts of money laundering, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Although counsel to all the parties, including Ali Ndume, who is standing as surety for the ex-pension reform boss were in court, Mr. Abang and Mr. Maina were absent. 

The registrar, for the second time, announced that the court would not be sitting. “My lord is on official engagement,” he said.

The registrar however informed the parties that hearing in all the criminal matters, including the case between the federal government and Abdulrasheed Maina would be rescheduled for Oct. 6.

Mr. Maina was recently released on bail from Kuje correctional facility nine months after he was able to get Mr. Ndume to stand surety for him. Part of the bail conditions were that the surety will bring Mr. Maina to court at every adjourned date or forfeit the N500 million bail bond.

On October 2, Mr. Ndume, a senator representing Maina’s Borno South constituency informed the court that he did not know the whereabouts of Maina. That was the third time Mr. Maina would be absent from court.

The judge, at that sitting, had ordered Mr. Ndume to produce Maina unfailing at Monday’s proceeding or he would be forced to grant the EFCC’s prayers to revoke Maina’s bail and issue a warrant of arrest against him.

Besides, the anti-graft agency had also prayed the court to make an order for the lawmaker to forfeit the N500 million bail bond to the Federal Government and be remanded in prison pending the time he was able to meet the pledge.

Mr. Maina had written a letter to Attorney-General Abubakar Malami on August 31, 2020, seeking a review of his money laundering charges. He claimed he was a subject of persecution by the suspended EFCC acting-chairman Ibrahim Magu.

Both Mr. Malami and Mr. Magu had been trading accusations over sharp disagreements in the handling of some corruption cases, one of which is believed to be that of Mr. Maina.

A DailyTrust April 2018 report had indicted Mr. Malami in Mr. Maina’s reinstatement saga after the latter was dismissed from federal service in 2013 for fraud disappearance.

Though the Buhari administration re-enacted the sack following public outcry, Mr. Maina went into hiding and evaded arrest until operatives of EFFC and SSS tracked him to an Abuja hotel last year and arrested him.

(NAN)

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