Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday fixed November 8, for judgment in the N2bn corruption charges filed against former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.
The fixing of the date came barely 24 hours after Maina’s son, Faisal, was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment by the same court for similar corruption charges.
The judge said the verdict would be given on the date subject to availability of judicial time, after the prosecution counsel adopted his final written address.
The prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Farouk Abdullahi, while adopting his final address, urged the court to send Maina to prison on all the count levelled against him by the Federal Government.
Justice Abang had, before the final address adoption, overruled an oral application by Maina’s lawyer, Anayo Adibe, for an adjournment to enable him to file a written address out of time.
The judge, in a bench ruling, recalled that on July 16, he ordered parties to file and serve final written addresses before the matter was then adjourned till October 4, for adoption of final addresses.
Justice Abang said the order of July 16 remained binding on parties since it was not appealed against and there was “nothing before the court to show that the defendant was aggrieved with the order.”
Abang held that the defendant had “vehemently disobeyed a court order,” adding that instead of the defendants to take advantage to be heard by filing written addresses, they decided to file an application for bail during vacation.
“During the vacation period, the defendants filed an application on August 6, and I think they are persons that have denied themselves opportunity to be heard and not the court.
“Defendants cannot dictate to the court when to file written addresses and no application for enlargement of time within which to file written address was made.
“By not filing the final address, the defence cannot adopt legal strategy to enlarge the time of the court by seeking an adjournment.
“The defendants took an independent decision and made a choice not to file written addresses within time, and not doing so, is a decision the court cannot question,” he said.
Consequently, the application for adjournment to enable the defendants to file their written addresses was dismissed.
Having overruled the defence counsel, Justice Abang invited the EFCC counsel to adopt his written address.
The prosecution, in adopting his written address, urged the court to convict Maina as charged.
Source – Federal High Court Abuja
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