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Maina gets new lawyer, secures adjournment to prepare defence

Maina gets new lawyer, secures adjournment to prepare defence
February 01
19:23 2021

A federal high court in Abuja has adjourned the trial of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), to February 19.

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Okon Abang, the presiding judge, had fixed February 1 for Maina to open his defence and move his application for a fresh bail.

However, at the resumed trial on Monday, Sani Katu who announced appearance as Maina’s new lawyer said he is yet to acquaint himself with the case.

Katu said he was unable to meet with his client at the Kuje correctional centre where he is being remanded.

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“I am seeing the defendant applicant (Maina) for the first time now. I have not gone to prison to see him,” he said.

Reacting, Mohammed Abubakar, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), urged the court to disregard the request for adjournment.

He said the defendant and his counsel had ample time to prepare for their defence. He added that the affidavits attached to the bail application showed that he was given access to his lawyers.

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“It is also very clear from these affidavits that his team of counsel has free access to him and have been having interview sessions with him,” Abubakar said.

“In the light of all these, our humble submission is that the 1st defendant (Maina) is ready for everything else except the opening of his defence in the trial.”

Ruling on the application, Abang said: “The court must look at the justice of the case and take a decision that will take into consideration the competing rights of parties.”

Citing section 396(4) of the constitution, the judge granted Maina’s plea.

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He adjourned the matter to February 19 for Maina to open his defence and for all pending applications to be heard.

Maina, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC on 12 counts bordering on money laundering to the tune of N2 billion, was granted bail in the sum of N1 billion on November 25, 2019.

Unable to meet the bail conditions, Okon Abang reduced the bail sum to N500 million and asked the former PRTT chairman to produce one surety who must be a serving senator and own a landed property in one of the choicest areas within the federal capital territory (FCT).

Ali Ndume, a senator from Borno state, who had agreed to be Maina’s surety was, however, remanded in prison after the defendant jumped bail and went into hiding.

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Ndume, who was later granted bail, withdrew his suretyship for the defendant.

Maina was eventually arrested in Niger and extradited to Nigeria to continue his trial.

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