Maina to remain in prison until end of trial, court rules
NEWS DIGEST – A federal high court in Abuja has ordered the remand of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), at Kuje correctional centre until the end of his trial, The Cable Newspaper reports.
“The defendant is already on bench warrant, his bail having been revoked,” Okon Abang, the judge said.
“So, he shall be remanded in correctional service pending completion of trial.”
At the court session, Francis Orunsanye from the law firm of Joe Gadzama, Maina’s legal representative, moved an application to withdraw from the case.
Orunsanye said: “Our non appearance in this matter for some time was not born out of disrespect or disregard for this honourable court.
“We have written to the first defendant (Maina) indicating our intention to pull out our representation. And we went further to file a notice of discontinuance of appearance.”
The judge granted leave to the defendant counsel to withdraw his appearance.
Adaji Abel, another lawyer, then announced appearance for Maina.
Abel, who said he had just been briefed by his client, asked the court to adjourn the matter to enable him to acquaint himself with the case.
But Mohammed Abubakar, EFCC counsel, opposed the application for an adjournment.
Ruling on the application, Abang held that the defendant still enjoys the presumption of innocence and ought to be given fair hearing.
“The defendant is now in court. It is my humble view that the defendant is still presumed to be innocent until the contrary is proved,” the judge said.
“Therefore, the first defendant is entitled to his constitutional rights under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution. Essentially the right that has to do with fair hearing.
“He is represented by a counsel and the counsel prayed the court for a short date to enable him to be properly briefed.
“I am inclined to accommodate the counsel of the first defendant in the overall interest of justice.”
The judge then adjourned the case till December 8.
Maina, who is on trial for alleged money laundering to the tune of N2 billion, stopped attending proceedings in September setting Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south, who stood as his surety against the law.
On Monday, Maina was arrested in Niger Republic where he had taken refuge, and was extradited to Nigeria on Thursday.
In a blue kaftan and a traditional cap, Maina was brought before the court to face his trial on Friday.