The 5th prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina on Thursday told a Federal High Court in Abuja that the former pension boss refused to take bribe money allegedly offered him by some people his tax team prosecuted during the reform.
The witness, Khalid Aliyu Biu, younger brother to Maina told the court, under cross-examination by Maina’s counsel, Afam Osigwe that he told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that the bribe money, which was in foreign currency was brought in a Toyota SUV car at about 12 midnight to Maina, who was in company of former Head of Service, Steven Orosanye.
According to the witness, “My brother told me that the money was meant to be a bribe for him and the former Head of Service.
“I told the EFCC that Maina directed the driver that brought the money to go back with the money and told the driver to tell the people that sent him with the money to meet them in the office”, the witness added.
The trial judge, Justice Abang, at this point called on the registrar of the court to read in the open court a publication in one of the national dailies that mentioned the reserved ruling on the application for bail variation filed by the former pension boss.
Abang, who described the said publication as contemptuous of the court and violation of Section 133(4) of the constitution said he, would have ordered the editor and the reporter of the newspaper to appear before the court to disclose the sponsors of the publication and to also show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them in another court.
The judge, however, said he left the editor, the reporter, and sponsors of the publication on a matter of national interest pending before a court to their conscience after listening to submissions by counsel in the matter.
“Trying to influence the court of law on pages of a newspaper without any cause, is an act of rascality “, the judge said and cautioned journalists to only report what transpired during court proceedings.
Meanwhile, the court announced that ruling in Maina’s application for bail variation slated for yesterday was not ready, adding that the court was within time to rule on the application.
Maina is being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 12-count charge, bordering on operating fictitious bank accounts, fraud, and money laundering to the tune of over N2 billion, alongside his son, Faisal, who is facing a three-count charge of money laundering, corruption and lack of full disclosure of assets.
Though he was granted bail on November 25, 2019, Maina has remained in Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja due to his failure to meet up with his bail conditions.
Maina’s counsel had last week, drawn the attention of the court to an affidavit for the variation of the defendant’s bail condition, filed on December 17, 2019, and a written address on the same issue, filed on December 6, 2019.
The counsel adopted the written address and affidavit and urged the court to grant the application.
In his response, prosecution counsel, Faruq Abdullah opposed the application and further informed the court that he had filed a 30 paragraph counter-affidavit.
Abdullah further told the court that alongside the affidavit was a 12 paragraph additional affidavit, deposed to by a staff of the defendant, all of which he adopted and urged the court to discountenance the defendant’s application.
While reserving ruling on the application, Justice Abang noted that the ruling in respect of Maina’s bail variation was urgent and should be treated as such.
Maina was on November 25, 2019, granted bail in the sum of N1 billion and two sureties.
The two sureties must be serving Nigerian Senators who will have to produce a bail bond of N500 million each.
The court added that the two sureties must not be standing any criminal trial in any court in the country, and must always be in court with Maina at each adjourned date.
The sureties must have landed properties fully developed in Asokoro or Maitama Districts of Abuja and must show evidence of tax clearance for three years.
The judge also ordered Maina to deposit all his travel passports, including American, Nigerian and diplomatic passport.