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Pension fraud: Judge adjourns trial as Maina slumps in court

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, adjourned the trial of former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, Abulrasheed Maina, till December 21. The adjournment followed a mild drama, wherein Maina slumped in the courtroom, shortly after his case was called. Maina is standing trial on a 12-count charge of money laundering filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against him and his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited.

Maina had collapsed beside the dock while his counsel, Anayo Adibe, was praying the court to adjourn the trial to later date. The prosecution had closed its case on Wednesday after it called nine witnesses that testified in the matter.

Maina had on Wednesday notified the court of his decision to enter a no-casesubmission to the charge against him. However, at the resumed trial yesterday, Maina’s counsel, Adibe, said he was unable to prepare the no-case submission owing to the fact that he was not availed with records of proceedings of the court in the matter.

Adibe was still on his feet when his client, Maina, fell down from his seat, a development that forced the court to temporarily suspend sitting. Some lawyers and officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service had promptly rushed to Maina’s aid after he slumped. Medical personnel from the court were later brought to the scene in a bid to resuscitate him.

When proceedings resumed about 11a.m., Maina was not yet back to the courtroom. In a bench ruling, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, refused the application for an adjournment. The court, however, held that since the defendant was not back for continuation of the proceedings, it would not foreclose his right to make the no-case submission. Nevertheless, the court stressed that certified true copies (CTC) of all the records of proceedings Maina’s counsel requested were ready since December 8. Justice Abang further confirmed from all the court registrars that Maina’s counsel failed to return to pick up the compiled records.

Though the court described the adjournment request by Maina’s counsel as “a deliberate ploy to delay the trial,” it however held that since the defendant was not back in the courtroom, his right to make a no-case submission would be preserved till December 21.

The court later adjourned till December 21 for Maina to make his no-case submission. The prosecution had, in the charge marked FHC/ ABJ/CR/256/2019, alleged that Maina used a bank account that was operated by his firm and laundered funds to the tune of about N2 billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.

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