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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Alleged Money Laundering: Court gives Ndume 21 days to produce Maina

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, gave Senator Ali Ndume who is representing Borno South, 21 days, to produce the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who has repeatedly failed to appear for continuation of his trial on money laundering charges.

The former pension boss is facing a 12-count criminal charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) preferred against him and a firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited.

Maina spent over seven months on remand at the Kuje Correctional Center before the court released him on bail after Senator Ndume agreed to stand surety for him.

EFCC alleged that he used account of the firm and laundered funds to the tune of about N2billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.

EFCC has already opened its case and called witnesses that included bankers and Maina’s relatives, who testified and tendered exhibits in evidence before the court.

However, the Defendant had since September 29, failed to appear in court for his trial, even as the prosecution alleged that he has jumped bail.

Senator Ndume had on October 2 when the matter came up for trial, informed the court that he did not know the whereabouts of the Defendant.

Likewise, at the resumed proceedings on Monday, the lawmaker, lamented before the court that all his efforts to locate the 1st Defendant, proved abortive.

Ndume begged the court to issue an arrest warrant to enable security operatives to track down and apprehend Maina.

Ndume said he was willing to forfeit his own freedom to ensure that Maina is arrested and produced before the court.

Trial Justice, Okon Abang then reminded Ndume that the legal implication of such arrest warrant is that he would also be remanded in custody pending when Maina is apprehended.

He told the court he had only met Maina once in his life before he decided to stand as his surety, being the lawmaker that represents his constituency.

Besides, Ndume told the court that he was pressurized to stand surety for the Defendant by three former governors.

Earlier, EFCC’s lawyer, Farouk Abdullah, applied for leave of the court to try Maina in absentia.

He also urged the court to not only revoke Maina’s bail, but to also direct his surety, Ndume, to pay the sum of N500million, being the total bail bond.

Maina’s lawyer, Francis Oronsaye, opposed the application to revoke his client’s bail, though he also admitted not knowing his whereabouts.

In a bench ruling, Justice Abang said he was inclined to in the interest of justice, give Senator Ndume 21 days grace period to produce the Defendant.

The matter was subsequently adjourned to November 18 for trial.

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