A Federal High Court on Monday granted the request by Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman, Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT) for further variation of his bail conditions.
The variation was granted eight months after the court first set the initial terms.
The EFCC had last year instituted 12 counts of money laundering against Maina along with a firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited, which he was accused of using to launder about N2bn in pension funds.
Justice Okon Abang said he granted Maina’s prayer on compassionate ground, especially after he secured as surety a serving senator in the country.
Joe Gadzama, SAN, representing Maina, on June 23, informed the court that Sen. Ali Ndume, representing Borno South, had decided to stand as surety for him.
Gadzama said though the condition had been met, the certificate of occupancy (C of O) of the Abuja property of the senator, which the court slated as a condition, did not bear his name.
The lawyer said the certificate was in the name of the original owner, one Lawan Ahmed.
Gadzama, who stated that Ndume was now the owner of the property, explained that there was an irrevocable letter of attorney (Exhibit G2) signed by the Director of Land in the FCTA, Mr G. Bawa, and addressed to the registrar of the court to back the claim.
“The power of attorney is irrevocable; the donor cannot get it back.
“That is why it is as good as the certificate of occupancy in this situation, it supercedes the certificate because it is latest in time,” he stressed.
He also told the court to reconsider the condition that Ndume must always come to court at every adjourned date to sign the court register, considering the state assignment before the lawmaker.
Ndume, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, had, in a statement on June 24, also admitted standing as surety for Maina.
He revealed that it took him six months of painful consideration to agree to be a surety for the ex-Pension boss, and that it was part of the cross he had to carry as Maina’s elected senator.
He said he has a duty to represent the good, the bad and the ugly of Borno South.
The EFCC on 25 October last year, charged Maina and his son, Faisal, before the court alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd.
Maina pleaded not guilty to the charge.
On 26 November, 2019, Justice Abang granted Maina bail in the sum of N1billion and two sureties who must be serving senators.
But on 28 January, he reduced the bail to N500 million with a surety in the like sum who must be a serving senator.
The judge ruled that the surety, who should not have a criminal case pending in any court, must have a landed property fully developed in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II, Katampe or Central Business Districts of Abuja, with Certificate of Occupancy attached as evidence.
Abang also ruled that the senator though would always come to the court at every adjourned date, the lawmaker only needed to come and sign a court register that would be opened at the registry, among other terms.
However, Maina had been unable to get a senator as surety for his release until Ndume decided to do so.
At the ruling on Monday, Justice Abang said he had carefully considered the arguments of parties.
Abang noted that it was within the court jurisdiction to either grant bail by vacating the existing conditions or grant new conditions.
He said though Gadzama, who is counsel to Maina, described the conditions of the bail as “suffocating and unbearable,” the judge said such submission was baseless going by the facts placed before the court by the EFCC.
“I felt the statement that the conditions was suffocating seems to portray the court as being inhuman in my view.
“I know the court is not inhuman. I take the fact of the case the way I understand the law.
“If you consider the fact of this case, you will agree with me because in the affidavit of the defendant (Maina), he said he was ready to fulfil the bail on any condition,” he said.
Besides, Abang stated that in the EFCC argument, Maina was said to be “a flight risk and that he comes into and out of the country through illegal routes.”
He noted that the anti-graft agency argued that “he will jump bail if granted; that he does not reside in the country; that his international passport does not indicate that he ever travels outside the country through legal means.
The judge said, with this development, he had to consider the competing rights of the parties.
“And that is why I arrived at a senator in standing surety for the 1st defendant, not somebody who does not have stake in the affairs of this country.
“That is why I said I took a risk in admitting him to bail, based on the weighty allegations by EFCC which the 1st defendant did not challenged,” he said.
Abang warned that if Maina jumped bail in an unlikely event, the court might either order the remand of Ndume in a correctional centre or for the surety to forfeit the penal sum.
The judge also said that both penalties might be meted out against the surety if the defendant jumped bail.
Except with the permission of the court, Abang ruled that Maina “shall not leave the FCT, Abuja, pending the hearing and determination of the charge.”
He then adjourned the matter till 2 July for trial continuation. – The News.