The embattled former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is being prosecuted on money laundering charges involving alleged diversion of pension funds to the tune of N2 billion, was absent at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for the hearing of his case. Maina’s absence stalled the continuation of his trial.
Maina was nowhere to be found when his matter was called by the court registrar, counsel to Maina, Francis Oronsaye, tendered an apology on behalf of his client to Justice Okon Abang. Justice Abang, who was unhappy about the development said he would not record Oronsaye’s statement.
Justice Abang then asked the court registrar if Maina’s surety, Senator Ali Ndume, was in court. He said “I want to know if the surety, the distinguished Senator Ali Ndume, is in court now or before 9am to sign the register in line with court order on bail conditions. Do you know the surety?” The Registrar answered, “I do not know him. Nobody approached us to introduce himself as distinguish Sen. Ali Ndume or signed the register as ordered by the court”.
Oronsaye, counsel to Maina, further apologised, saying Maina was unavoidably absent today owing to the fact that we were informed by the authority of Maitama Hospital via a letter sent to us and we have equally forwarded the letter to the court. Justice Abang asked the Registrar “Have you received any letter”, the Registrar answered, “No, my lord”.
Justice Abang then asked Oronsaye if he received a verifying affidavit where such letter was exhibited. Oronsaye responded that “we have filed an affidavit on same and filed on the prosecution.”
Justice Abang however told Oronsaye that he could only consider his submission if the letter from the hospital was placed before the court, but the court register shows that the letter has not been placed before the court.
Oronsaye, counsel to Maina, thereafter asked for an adjournment for trial continuation.
The EFCC Counsel, Farouk Abdullah, told the court that the matter was adjourned in the last sitting for trial continuation, “particularly the continuation of cross examination of PW6. PW6 is available. However, due to the absence of the defendant and the application made by counsel to defendant, we will not oppose the application for adjournment”.
Justice Abang then adjourned the case for trial continuation which he said would be from day to day, except in the event of a public holiday.
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