Court okays Ndume as Maina’s surety
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday granted further variation of the conditions attached to the bail earlier granted former Chairman of Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, which he could not meet.
Maina is being tried before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 12-count money laundering charges.
In a ruling, Justice Okon Abang said he decided to grant Maina’s prayer on compassionate ground, especially after he had been able to produce a serving senator in the country, in the person of Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume.
Justice Abang said it was within the court’s jurisdiction to either grant bail by vacating the existing conditions or grant new conditions.
He faulted the argument by Maina’s lawyer that the earlier bail conditions were “suffocating and unbearable”.
The judge held that such submission was baseless, going by the facts the EFCC placed before the court.
He said: “I felt the statement that the condition 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.”
Justice Abang said 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 recalled 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 noted that 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 first defendant, not somebody who does not have a 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 first defendant did not challenge,” Justice Abang said.
The judge refused to grant the request that the court jettison the condition that the senator, who stands as surety, must attend court to sign a register on each hearing date.
“I think the issue of signing a registrar has been settled by the surety. The court cannot revisit this again.
“The surety has already signed an affidavit of means, especially in Paragraph 9, in which he said ‘I shall fulfil the bond of oath’.
“Having agreed to come to court with the defendant, this cannot be jettison by any person other than Senator Ndume,” he said.
Justice Abang held that Ndume understood what he deposed to in the affidavit of means on May 5.
The judge rejected the defendant’s argument that it might be difficult for the lawmaker to come to court at every sitting, describing it as “a documentary hearsay”.