FG reaches out to Niger, US in search of Maina
Federal Government has decided to reach out to Niger Republic and the United States of America in its efforts to execute the arrest warrant issued by a court in Abuja against an ex-Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, believed to have jumped bail.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) disclosed this in the counter-affidavit it filed against the bail application filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume.
The court, before which Maina is being tried for money laundering had, on November 18 this year revoked the bail granted him and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
“The prosecution has obtained the bench warrant and it is making frantic efforts to execute it while enlisting the support of other security agencies in the country as well as some foreign governments, particularly the Republic of Niger and the United States of America,” the EFCC said in the counter-affidavit.
The commission urged the court to reject the bail application but Ndume, arguing that it was a ploy for him to evade the consequences of serving as a surety for a fleeing defendant and avoid meeting the condition set by the court for his release.
The court, on November 23 ordered that Ndume, who stood surety for Maina, be remanded in prison pending when he is either able to produce the defendant or forfeit the N500million bail bond he signed, having failed to account for Maina’s whereabouts.
Arguing the counter affidavit on Thursday, shortly after Ndume’s lawyer, Marcel Oru moved the bail application, the prosecuting lawyer; Mohammed Abubakar argued that since Ndume has appealed the order for his remand, he should await the decision of the Court of Appeal.
Abubakar argued that should the court grant Ndume bail, saying “it would have sat as an appeal on its decision, leaving nothing for the Court of Appeal to decide in the appeal filed by Ndume.”
The prosecuting lawyer who argued that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the bail application since the appeal has not been entered, faulted Oru’s contention that sending his client to prison amounted to double jeopardy when he should have only forfeited the bail bond.
Abubakar added the remand order was not indefinite, but pending when meets any of the three conditions set by the court.
“What was forfeited by the applicant before this court is the bail bond of N500m and not the property in Asokoro. The property in Asokoro is the security for the bond and the forfeiture of the bond cannot by itself actualise itself.
“And that was why the court ordered that the applicant should pay the bail of N500m in satisfaction of the fulfilment or we sell the property and recover the bail sum.
“So, it is our submission that our selling of the property is dependable on the inability or failure of the applicant to pay the sum of N500m. And, until he informs us of his inability, we cannot go ahead and sell the property. This is to forestall double payment,” Abubakar said.
Oru had, while arguing earlier, said his bail application was intended to have his client released from custody pending the determination of his appeal, which he said, could take a while.
He argued that the court has the power to grant his client’s application, noting that it was not intended to make it sit on appeal over its earlier decision.
Oru pleaded with the court to show sympathy for his client, he noted, has spent four days in custody over the “despicable conduct of Maina.”
The lawyer noted that with the fate that has befallen his client, “only God knows from the lesson learned, whether a Nigerian with a good heart will ever stand surety for anyone anymore. ”
Oru urged the court to consider his client’s application within the peculiar circumstances in which Ndume was sent to prison and exercise its discretion in his favour and grant him bail.
The lawyer noted that Ndume had kept faith with the condition of the bail granted Maina by dutifully attending court and signing the court’s register as required, despite his busy schedule as a serving Senator.
Oru urged the court to consider the fact that Ndume is a serving member of the Senate and Chairman of Senate Committee on Army, over-sighting the activities of the Nigerian Army that is fighting terrorism and internal security challenges in 33 states of the federation.
He added that Ndume is equally a member of three other critical committees of the Senate, on Health, Establishment and Public service and Special Duties.
He said his client raised serious issues of law in the appeal he filed, adding one of the issues was his contention that the only order the trial court ought to make was “to order the forfeiture of landed property as deposed to in the applicant affidavit in respect of the property whose title deed is in custody of the court”
Oru argued that Ndume was sent to prison without trial as he ought to have been given opportunities to call witnesses, give evidences and, if found guilty, allow to make a plea of allocutus (mercy).
Ndume was not in court on Thursday.
Justice Okon Abang, after listening to arguments by the lawyers, adjourned till Friday for ruling.