Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, lessened the conditions of the bail he granted the former chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina on November 26, 2019, which the defendant has been unable to meet, leading to his continued incarceration in Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja.
Maina is facing a 12-count anti-money laundering charges from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to the tune of N2.1billion. It would be recalled that the court on November 26, 2019, admitted Maina to bail in the sum of N500million and two sureties in like sum, adding that the sureties must be serving senators with no criminal matter in any of the courts.
The sureties according to the court must also possess landed or developed property in Asokoro or Maitama. They must also undertake to always accompany the defendant to court at every sitting and that the bail could be revoked for the absence of any of the sureties without reasonable cause.
Maina’s counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, who described the bail conditions as “impracticable” applied for variation of the conditions.
According to the defendant, he had engaged several people including his family members to come up with the sureties, but that every senator approached declined based on the fact that they do not worth N500 million.
He further stated that the senators also claimed that they do not own properties in Asokoro and Maitama. On the stipulation that the senators must attend every court proceeding on the matter, the senators he said, argued that they would be denying their constituencies proper representation if they should be absent at the National Assembly proceedings to accompany him to court at every adjourned date.
At the resumed sitting today, the judge in a reserved ruling held that the court has discretionary power to vary or review the bail conditions without sentiment, emotion or fear. Justice Abang, however, noted that the defendant failed to produce sufficient material to support his claims of not being able to meet the bail conditions, noting that the applicant ought to have shown efforts put in place to prove to the court that he actually made frantic efforts.
Though Abang said that the bail conditions were not put in place for fun and cannot be varied based merely on the applicant’s claims, he however, granted the prayer.
“I am inclined to vary the bail conditions not because of the fact placed before the court since the applicant has not put enough fact before the court to back his claims of stringent bail conditions but on the interest of justice,” he stated.
Justice Abang, thereafter varied the bail conditions by granting N500 million and one surety in like sum, that the surety must be a serving senator with no criminal trial in any court and that the senator must have a landed or developed property in Wuse2, Katampe, Central Business District, Asokoro or Maitama.
He also ruled that the surety must undertake to always accompany the defendant to court and sign a register that would be opened specifically for the purpose of this proceedings, and that the registrar shall sight the senator and once sited can go back to perform his legislative duties.
He adjourned that matter to January 29, 2020, for continuation of trial.