Court to Maina: You can’t determine relevance of documents

…fixes today to hear defendant’s request for bail variation 

 

 

Tunde Oyesina

Abuja

 

T

he Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday refused the request by ex-Pension Reform chairman, Abdulrasheed Maina, seeking to reject documented evidence filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Maina, alongside his two companies, are standing trial over a 12-count charge of money laundering.

 

Ruling on Maina’s application, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, held that the defendant was not in a position to determine before the court which document was relevant to the case of the prosecution.

He further held that any document the prosecution decided to bring before the court to prove their case, provided it was admissible in law, such documents will be admitted in evidence.

Justice Abang noted that whether the court will consider the document relevant to a case before it was entirely a different issue.

 

“It is a case of the prosecution and not the defendant; the defendants have not opened their defence.

 

“It is possible that at the close of the case of the prosecution, the defendants may or may not call evidence in the matter.

“Put differently, the defendants may decide to file a no case application at the close of the case of the prosecution. If the no case application succeeds, then the defendants may not call evidence in the matter.

“It is only when the no case application fails that the defendants may decide to call evidence in the matter.

 

“In a like manner, it is not for the prosecution to determine which document is relevant to the case of the defendant,” the Judge held.

The court equally held that when a defendant decides to call evidence in a matter, any document that the defendant decides to bring to court to prove their innocence will be provided in evidence.

 

Prosecution counsel, Farouk Abdullahi, had earlier tendered a set of five documents indicating the bank statement of accounts, account opening and certificate of identification belonging to Maina and four others as evidence.

The four others were: Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Services, Drew Investment and Construction Limited, Cluster Logistics and Nafisatu Aliyu.

Justice Abang consequently admitted in evidence the five documents as Exhibit D1, Exhibit D2, Exhibit D3, Exhibit D4 and Exhibit D5.

Laying foundation for tendering the said documents, the prosecution had called its 3rd Witness who is a Compliance Officer of a financial institution.

 

The witness, Marvis Enabulele, said he served as a witness in the case in respect to a request by the EFCC to provide information on certain accounts in 2019.

 

Enabulele acknowledged that the accounts information retrieved were that of Abdulrashid Maina, Cluster Logistics, Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Services, Nafisatu Aliyu and Trew Investment and Construction Limited.

“We got the information from the archives and database system of the bank. After printing, we also compared what we printed to what was on the bank’s system for accuracy,” he said.

 

After identifying copies of the documents, Abdullahi tendered the five sets of documents before the court and urged the court to admit and mark as exhibits.

 

Counsel to Maina, Mohammed Munguno, urged the court to reject the documents tendered.

“The documents are irrelevant, of no use and not related with the charges before the court and also not reflected to the proof of evidence,” he said.

 

Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Adeola Adedipe, aligned with the submissions of Munguno.

 

In response, the prosecution insisted that the documents tendered were of paramount importance to the case.

 

“We want the court to see the proof of evidence, especially page 1060 and you will find out that the documents were attached to the proof of evidence.

 

“The documents are relevant and it does not lie in the mouths of the defendant counsel to say they are not relevant. Because, this is a criminal trial on 12 counts charge of money laundering through financial institutions.

 

“The documents have complied fully with the provision of the evidence ACT,” the prosecution said.

 

The court later adjourned till January 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th for  continuation of trial and hearing of application seeking bail variation.

 

The court had, on November 25, 2019, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N1 billion after pleading not guilty to the 12-count charge.

The court then ordered Maina to produce two sureties who must be serving senators.

 

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

 

The court added that the two lawmakers provided must be free of any criminal trial in any court within the country.

Maina had, however, applied for a bail variation, owing to his inability to meet the bail condition. 

 

 

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