…Maina supporters insist judge recluse self
By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, gave Senator Ali Ndume 21 days ultimatum to produce the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, in court.
The ex pension boss has been absent from over 10 scheduled trial sessions since September 2020.
Meanwhile, Maina supporters has been carrying out campaign against the judge by pasting posters accusing the judge of bias in the handling of the trial on walls of neighbouring buildings around the court premises.
They urge him to wash his hands off the matter in the spirit of justice, adding that they will ensure Maina does not appear in court if their request is not granted.
Justice Abang in his ruling held that, as Maina’s bail surety, senator Ndume could be detained should he fail to produce the defendant in court on November 18, adding that could not order Maina’s arrest without ordering the detention of his surety.
The senator, had at the last adjourned date, informed the court that he could no longer find the defendant.
In response, the prosecuting counsel, Farouk Abdullah, told the judge that Maina had jumped bail, saying the commission’s independent investigation showed that the defendant was not in admission at the hospital where he claimed to be receiving treatment.
In his defence, Maina, in a video clip, circulated on different online platforms, said he had not absconded from his ongoing trial but was suffering from knee injuries.
He said he would not appear in court until he was certified healed by his doctors.
When the matter was called up yesterday, the prosecution counsel, Abdullah, noted that Maina was absent from the proceedings and the previous court sessions without offering any explanation.
He urged the court to grant three requests, one of which was an application for an order revoking the bail granted the defendant.
He also asked the court to order Ndume to pay the N500m bail sum backing the bail bond he entered into to secure the bail granted Maina.
Premised on section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, he pray the court for an order for the trial of the defendant to proceed in the absence of the defendant.
Reacting, counsel to the defendant, Francis Oronsaye, said the information he had was that his client (Maina)was on hospital admission after undergoing surgery.
He, however, opposed the application seeking the revocation of his client’s bail but asked the prosecution counsel to file a formal application to enable him to file a reply.
At the juncture, Justice Abang asked Ndume, about Maina’s whereabouts.
Responding, Ndume said, “I understand that the defendant is in Abuja and I did all I can to locate him without any definite result.”
He said he had reported the defendant to the Director-General of the Department of State Service, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Investigations.
“I had reported to the DG SSS, the AIG of Police Investigation; the Commission of Police in Abuja and the Divisional Police Office in Jabi, Abuja.”
Urging the court to issue a warrant for Maina’s arrest, Ndume said, “Even if I see Maina today, I can’t force him to come to court.
“I am appealing to you to issue a warrant on him,” he added.