Alleged pension fraud: EFCC opposes Maina’s plea for bail as Ndume stands as surety
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, opposed the application by the former chairman of the Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, for further variation of his bail terms granted him by the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Counsel to the EFCC, Farouq Abdullahi, told the trial Judge yesterday that the application was unmeritorious.
Earlier, Counsel to Maina, Joe Gadzama (SAN), had prayed the court to take Maina’s motion for variation of his bail terms before continuation of his trial.
Before the judge could grant the request, Gadzama informed the court that his client had met all the bail conditions ordered by the court except one.
He told the court that Sen Ali Ndume had decided to stand as surety for the ex-Pension boss.
Recall that the EFCC had, on October 25, 2019, charged Maina and his son, Faisal, before the court alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd.
Maina pleaded not guilty to the 12-count charge, bordering on money laundering slammed against him by the EFCC and Justice Abang on January 28, varied Miana’s bail conditions, following his inability to meet the bail terms granted him in November last year.
Abang reduced Amina’s bail condition from N1 billion to N500 million with a surety in the like sum who must be a serving senator as opposed to the earlier order of producing two serving senators.
The judge ruled that the surety, who should not have any criminal case pending in any court, must have a landed property fully developed in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II, Katampe or Central Business Districts of Abuja, with Certificate of Occupancy attached as evidence.
Abang also ruled that the senator would always come to the court at every adjourned date, only needed to come and sign a court register that would be opened at the registry, among other terms.
However, Maina had been unable to get a senator as surety for his release.
Gadzama, while presenting another motion before Justice Abang for further bail variation of the defendant, on Tuesday, said the motion, which was dated June 10, 2020, and filed the same date was brought pursuant to Sections 158, 165, 167, 168(b), 173, 492(3) of ACJA (Administration of Criminal Justice Act) and Section 35, 36 of the constitution.
The counsel said his client was grateful for the earlier bail granted him, saying, “We came back again, the honourable court granted a variation, reducing two senators to one.
“But the applicant could not meet the condition,” he said. In a desperate move to get freedom, we filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
“He was able to get Senator Ndume who agreed to stand as surety. We now withdrew the appeal by filing a notice of discontinuous (Exhibit E),” he said.
Gadzama said since they could not come for bail variation with a pending appeal, “So we withdrew this from Court of Appeal to clear the coast.”
According to the lawyer, the 1st defendant has met all the conditions except one which is that the surety must have a certificate of occupancy to cover the landed property.
He told the court that Ndume had submitted a certificate of occupancy to cover the property but that the certificate was in the name of the original owner, one Lawan Ahmed.
“It is in the name of Lawan Ahmed but the owner of the property today is Senator Ali Ndume who purchased it from Ahmed,” he said and further explained that there was an irrevocable letter of attorney (Exhibit G2) signed by the Director of Land in the FCTA, Mr G Bawa, and addressed to the registrar of Federal High Court to back the claim.
“The power of attorney is irrevocable; the donor cannot get it back. That is why it is as good as the certificate of occupancy in this situation, it supersedes the certificate because it is latest in time.”
Countering Gadzama’s submission, the EFCC’s counsel, Abdullahi, said the commission filed a nine-paragraph counter affidavit on June 16 with one exhibit (Exhibit EFCC1) and deposed to by a staff of the complainant.
The lawyer argued that the power of attorney did not convey a land title.
“In the case of FCT, it is only the president that can allocate land to an individual. The FCT minister exercises this power on behalf of the president. Therefore, No individual, who has enjoyed the power of allocation from the minister can allot to himself the power of the minister to further allocate that land or further transfer that land to another.
Again, Abdullahi told the court that in paragraph 16 of the affidavit of means or compliance to the requirements of the order of the court, the senator stated that he might not be able to come to the court to sign the register each time the matter comes up.
“Given this deposition, it presupposes that the 1st defendant has not met the conditions imposed by this court,” he said and described Maina’s application by as “unmeritorious,” urging the court to dismiss it.
Justice Abang, after listening to parties in the suit, adjourned ruling on the application till June 29, 2020.