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Court begins Maina’s trial in absentia [update]

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has, on Tuesday, commenced the trial of former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, in his absence.

ElombahNews, it could be recalled, reported on November 23 that the Court ordered that Senator Ali Ndume be remanded over his inability to produce the runaway former defunct Pension Reformed Task Team Chairman.

Maina, who is facing charges on a N2 billion money laundering allegation, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The presiding judge ordered that Senator Ndume be remanded until he produces Maina or sells off his property located in Asokoro, Abuja, worth N500 million.

Maina last attended court on July 2, 2020, during the cross-examination of the sixth prosecution witness by his legal team.

He, however, failed to attend subsequent proceedings since it resumed on September 29, 2020.

Consequently, Justice Abang held that he has jumped bail in a ruling delivered on November 18, 2020, and revoked the bail granted him earlier.

The judge also ordered his arrest and ruled that his trial would continue in absentia.

In the meantime, not only was Maina absent in court, but no lawyer was there to represent him or his company charged along with him as his second defendant.

Following the request of the prosecuting counsel, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, the judge closed the right of Maina to cross-examining the sixth prosecution.

He also foreclosed the right of the second defendant’s to cross-examine the witness and admitted an exhibit tendered by the prosecutor without any objection.

Justice Abang held that the defendants had the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses and oppose the admissibility of the exhibit tender but failed to take advantage of it.

“They have themselves to blame,” the judge repeated each time he had to take a decision closing or foreclosing the defendants’ rights in the course of the trial.

Meanwhile, Maina’s surety, Senator Ndume, will remain in prison until he is able to produce him in court or pay the N500m bail bond to the Federal Government.

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