N2bn alleged fraud: Maina fails to stall trial, as EFCC calls first witness

The former chairman of defunct Police Pension Task Force, Dr Abdulrasheed Maina, on Wednesday failed to stall the commencement of his criminal trial before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

When the matter came up yesterday, which was earlier scheduled to commence, trial,

Prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar told the court that he was ready to call witnesses in the matter.

Maina’s counsel, Joe Kyari-Gadzama informed the court that he was not ready for the trial to commence, saying that he was only briefed last night to take over the existing legal team of the 1st defendant from Ahmed Raji (SAN).

Delivering a bench ruling, Justice Abang overruled the application for adjournment, saying the matter was adjourned for trial.

“My Lord, I have considered the application and response of the prosecution and holds that the 1st defendant cannot by his conduct seeks to control proceeding in a matter adjourned for trial.

“This court adjourned for the prosecution to call its witness and for Counsel to be briefed by the 1st defendant even the prosecution opposed the application.

“For the defendant not to brief his counsel is the business of the defendant; ample time was given by the court for the defendant to brief his counsel, and he has himself to blame if he did not.

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“The defendant’s counsel on record is Ahmed Raji SAN, and he has not applied to withdraw from the case. He ought to be in court but no reason was given for his absence” Justice Abang noted and held that Raji was in court in the morning before the matter was stood down and wondered why he left because the matter was not adjourned.

“Ahmed Raji should not have left except with permission of the court. Therefore I hold that learned counsel walked out on court. it is unethical and he left to cause problem for the court today.

“My Lord, the learned counsel, Gadzama is not counsel on record today.

“The defendant cannot come on a day fixed for a trial to ask for an adjournment. Application for adjournment is hereby overruled” Justice Abang held.

Earlier, Gadzama had pressured the court to adjourn the triàl for him to be briefed by Maina.

In his reaction, counsel to the prosecution, Mohammed Abubakar opposed the application for an adjournment on the grounds that the court had on October 25, ordered that trial would begin on October 30, and that it would not entertain any frivolous application.

Abubakar argued that the Federal High Court Practice Direction provided that an application for an adjournment cannot be made on a date fixed for trial.

The EFCC lawyer submitted that the application for adjournment ought to have been made a day earlier and therefore urged the court to refuse it.

Meanwhile, the prosecution went ahead to call its witness by name, Mairo Mohammed, a staff of an old generation bank, who admitted opening naira and dollar accounts for Maina.

She admitted knowing Maina. “Yes my Lord, his name is Abdulrasheed Maina. We have a bank-customer relationship, and also, he is a junior brother to my late husband.

“He is my brother-in-law, and I know the company called Common Input Property and Investment Ltd..

“I approached Maina when he was chairman Police Pension Task Force and solicited for deposit, and he gave the bank a deposit of N3bn in 2011, ànd the funds were moved to Treasury Single Account with CBN around 2012.

“In a bid to grow my deposit, I also approached Maina for more deposits and I opened about 12 accounts for him and his immediate family” Mohammed told the court.

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