Alleged pension fraud: Maina asks court to further vary his bail conditions

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has been asked to further vary the bail conditions given to the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.

Maina, through his counsel, Joe Gadzama (SAN), in an application filed on February 10, 2020, on conditions and terms of the bail granted the former pension boss on November 26, 2020, and varied on January 28 graciously by the court.

Justice Abang had, on January 28, varied Miana’s bail conditions, following his inability to meet the bail terms granted him in November last year.

The former pension boss, his son, Faisal alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on money laundering related charges.

Maina, who was arraigned on a 12-count charge had, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

He said though the court has the discretion to grant his application or refuse it, he believed that the judge will exercises his discretion judiciously and judicially.

According to him, “This court has the power to further review the bail conditions earlier given”, and added that, “where bail is granted to a defendant and he cannot meet it because the bail is suffocating and difficult to meet, it can be likened to a poisoned meal that if he takes it, he dies and if he doesn’t take the food at all, he dies.

“The defendant (Maina) has come back humbly to say that he is thankful of the bail earlier granted, as well as the variation, but that the conditions cannot be met.

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“No Senator has agreed to stand as surety to be coming here and be signing on a daily basis,” he told the court.

Gadzama, in his submission, said Section 10 of the Interpretation Act (Laws of the Federation chapter 1, 2, 3) gives the court the power to vary bail conditions as many times as possible.

He also cited previous cases to back his argument.

The senior counsel said the EFCC had not advanced any good ground for requesting the court not to grant Maina’s bail variation plea.

Gadzama, who told the court that Maina is innocent until proven contrary, said it was his constitutional right, saying that, “We need facilities at his disposal to enable us to put up a defence for him.

“I visited him at the Kuje Correctional Centre but could not have access to him, how else can he defend himself before this court?” he asked and reminded the court that granting Maina’s bail did not mean permanent freedom, but to enable him to have access to justice.

He urged the court to give a bail condition on a more liberal term.

The trial judge, Justice Abang said he gave the bail conditions, considered to be difficult, based on the weighty allegations levelled against Maina by the anti-graft agency and that the applicant and his counsel failed to counter the allegations at the time.

“That he (Maina) no longer reside in Nigeria and that he sneaks in and out through Niger Republic border, among others,” he said.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Abubakar, however, opposed the bail variation plea, urging the court to discountenance Gadzama’s argument.

After taking Maina’s trial on Tuesday, Justice Abang adjourned ruling on the application to further vary the bail conditions until April 9, while adjourning the trial continuation till March 18, 2020.

The judge also ordered Maina to present one surety, who must be a Nigerian and a serving Senator, who must not be standing any criminal trial in court.

The judge in that ruling ordered that the Senator must have fully developed landed property in any of the high brow areas of Abuja.

Justice Abang added that the surety shall come to court with the defendant at all adjourned dates and shall sign the register open for him and go back to his business.

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