The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday gave Senator Ali Ndume 21-day ultimatum to produce the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is standing trial before the court over allegation bothering on money laundering to the tune N2 billion The decision of the court was premised on Maina’s absent for over 10 scheduled trial sessions since September.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, while handing down the order to Ndume who is Maina’s bail surety, threatened that the senator could be detained should he fail to produce the defendant in court on November 18.
The prosecution and Ndume had separately prayed the court to order Maina’s arrest on Monday. But the judge explained that he could not order Maina’s arrest without ordering the detention of his surety. He held that he was more inclined to give the senator three more weeks to find and produce the defendant in court. On October 2, 2020, Ndume, who is currently the Senator representing Borno South, the senatorial district Maina hails from, told Justice Abang that he could no longer find the defendant. In response, the prosecuting counsel, Farouk Abdullah, told the judge that Maina had jumped bail, saying the Commission’s independent investigation showed that the defendant was not in admission at the hospital where he claimed to be receiving treatment. But Maina, in a video clip circulated on different online platforms, said he had not absconded from his on-going trial, but was suffering from knee injuries.
He said he would not appear in court until he was certified healed by his doctors. At the resumed hearing on Monday, the prosecution counsel, Abdullah, noted that Maina was absent from the proceedings and the previous court sessions without offering any explanation. He urged the court to grant three requests, one of which was an application for an order revoking the bail granted the defendant.
He equally asked the court to order Ndume to pay the N500 million bail sum backing the bail bond he entered into to secure the bail granted Maina. He also sought an order for the trial of the defendant to proceed in the absence of the defendant as stipulated in section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, concerning absentee defendants. When asked about his client’s whereabouts, the defence counsel, Francis Oronsaye, said the information he had was that his client was on hospital admission after undergoing surgery. He, however, opposed the application seeking the revocation of his client’s bail, but asked the prosecution counsel to file a formal application to enable him to file a reply.
The judge then turned to Ndume, asking him about Maina’s whereabouts. Responding, Ndume said: “I understand that the defendant is in Abuja and I did all I can to locate him without any definite result.” He said he had reported the defendant to the Director- General of the Department of State Services (DSS), the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Investigations. The court consequently gave Ndume 21 days to produce the defendant in court.