Maina: Ndume passes night in prison, files appeal today | Dailytrust

Maina: Ndume passes night in prison, files appeal today

Appeal to be filed on Tuesday before the Court of Appeal in Abuja...

Senator Ali Ndume listens to Justice Okon Abang’s ruling at the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday,
Senator Ali Ndume listens to Justice Okon Abang’s ruling at the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday,

Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), who was on Monday taken into custody by officials of the National Correctional Service from Kuje, FCT on the orders of a Federal High Court in Abuja, will appeal the verdict on Tuesday.

Counsel to Ndume, Marcel Oru, said the appeal against the remand order will be filed on Tuesday before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

He said his client was not given a fair hearing because they had requested for documents to enable Ndume adequately defend himself.

Justice Okon Abang had ordered Ndume, who was surety to the former chairman of the Presidential Pension Reform Task Team (PPRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, to be remanded after the accused severally failed to appear in his trial over alleged N2 billion pension funds fraud.

“We needed the document before the judge to defend our client,” Ndume’s lawyer said.

“That has not been given to us, and fair hearing demands that this should be given to us before the court goes into the issue of forfeiture,” he said.

A source close to the lawmaker said Ndume was taken to Kuje Correctional Centre around 4 pm yesterday.

He said the ranking lawmaker was not reachable as his mobile phones were switched off soon after he was taken away from the court.

“Ndume will be taken to the court tomorrow (today) in continuation of the trial. Since there are three options for him available, we are hoping one of them will be met for him to regain his freedom,” the source said.

Ndume’s journey to prison

Senator Ali Ndume listens to Justice Okon Abang’s ruling at the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday, remanding him at the Correctional Centre in Kuje for his failure to produce Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman, defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, whom he stood surety for. The senator is being led out of court by the centre’s officials

Justice Abang on Monday said Ndume should be remanded in prison because he failed to present Maina in court.

Maina’s lawyers led by Joe Kyari Gadzama (SAN) had drawn the court’s attention to the ill health of their client, having tendered medical reports that he was hospitalised at the Maitama Hospital on conditions bordering on diabetes and hypertension which affected his ability to walk properly.

The judge on November 18, while revoking Maina’s bail, ordered Ndume to appear on Monday to show cause why he would not forfeit the sum of N500 million deposited for the bail to the coffers of the federal government.

The judge said Monday’s proceedings were for Ndume to show cause why the bail bond will not be forfeited if he failed to produce Maina physically in court, but the lawmaker rather wrote to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court for documents that included the entire record of proceedings in the court.

The court upheld EFCC’s application for Ndume to be remanded in custody and for him to forfeit the bail bond after failing to show cause.

The three options for Ndume

Consequently, relying on Section 179 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, the court ordered that Ndume should be remanded at the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Kuje until he forfeits the sum of N500m bail bond as contained in his affidavit. Alternatively, the court directed Ndume to produce Maina in court today, Tuesday .

The third option was the sale of the attached property at Plot 158, Cadastral Zone AO2, Asokoro, in the same sum of the bail bond.

Maina was on October 25, 2019, initially arraigned on 12-count charges alongside his son, Faisal on three-count charges all bordering on money laundering and concealment of proceeds of an unlawful act.

In the charges, Maina was alleged to have between September and December 2014, induced a UBA staff, one Mairo Mohammed Bashir who is his sister-in-law, to open a bank account in the name of Common Input Properties and Investments Ltd without following due diligence.

He was also alleged to have taken possession of the sums of N171.9m in cash, the sum of $316, 588.27, and $314.6m proceeds of unlawful transactions between 2014 and 2017, and 2015 and 2018, and 2011 and 2014, respectively.

Maina was also alleged to have between 2012 and 2016 taken possession of the sum of N1.8bn in his Fidelity Bank Plc account in the name Abdullahi Zaki.

He was also alleged to have in April 2012, and June 2012, made cash payments of $1.4m and $2m to one Ali Sani and Adamu Modibbo, respectively, for the purchase of property at Life Camp and Jabi, all in Abuja.

In the three-count charges, Maina’s son was alleged to have between October 2013 and June 2019, opened an anonymous account with the UBA as Alhaji Faisal Abdullahi Farma II while concealing his identity.

However, while Faisal regained his freedom, Maina could not fulfil his bail conditions of N1 billion bail bonds with a surety who must be a serving senator in like sum, and who must undertake to be present in every sitting until the case is concluded.

How Maina left prison

File photo of the former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina (on a wheel chair), during his appearance at the Federal High Court in Abuja for the hearing of his bail application

File photo of the former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina (on a wheel chair), during his appearance at the Federal High Court in Abuja for the hearing of his bail application

Considering that Maina was unable to fulfil his bail conditions, he was kept at a correctional facility for eight months.

He, however, regained his freedom on June 23 after Senator Ndume accepted to be his surety in new bail terms, which included the sum of N500m bail bonds and two sureties in like sum, one of whom must be a serving senator who must not be facing any criminal trial.

The condition included that the surety must have landed properties in Abuja’s highbrow Asokoro and Maitama worth the bail bond.

On October 19, after the court issued him 21 days’ notice to produce Maina in court, the senator averred that he only accepted to serve as surety to the ex-pensions boss based on the court’s order and after pressures from many senior citizens, as well as Maina’s wife, mother and uncle.

“I went to prison to confirm for myself whether he was sick and the prison officers told me that he was sick and appealed to me to be his surety so that he could have access to medical attention,” Ndume said.

“Orji Kalu was in the prison then. He, alongside Joshua Dariye and former governor of Taraba State, Rev. Jolly Nyame, all appealed to me in the prison to assist him.

“It took me eight months my lord to take that decision. I have to be given an indemnity by his uncle; signed by me, him and a lawyer that Maina would always be in court,” the senator said.

Ndume appealed to the court to adopt a procedure where “innocent citizens like me holding a public office for over one million people should not be subjected to this.”

It will be recalled that another serving senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe, was on November 14, 2018, ordered by a Federal High Court in Abuja to go to jail or forfeit the sum of N300 million bail bonds deposited for the bail of leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu following his abscondment from the trial.

Abaribe challenged the court’s order before the Court of Appeal, citing his diligent performance of the duty of surety until the Nigerian Army allegedly invaded the home of Kanu in 2017 leading to his escape from the country.

Relying on sections 55, 165(3), 167(3) and 488 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, Abaribe, argued that a public officer such as a senator was legally exempted from standing surety for a suspect.

Speaking with Daily Trust on Maina’s matter, one of the defence lawyers in the matter, who craved not to be named, said Maina’s health has deteriorated critically when he saw him in hospital some few weeks ago.

He alleged that during the eight months Maina spent in detention, his health was not properly taken care of by the security agencies.

The lawyer insisted that Maina has not left the country. “If he did, what are the security agencies doing? Are the Nigerian borders so porous?”

Maina had in several statements to the media in October while at the hospital, insisted that he was not on the run as being suggested but would need some time to recuperate and return to face his trial.

Maina betrayed our senator

The Senior Legislative Aide to Senator Ndume, Shehu Usman Aliyu, said Maina had betrayed the confidence of the senator by jumping bail.

“Senator Ndume did not know Maina from Adam until after some elders from Southern Borno met him in Abuja and begged him to act as his (Maina’s) surety for a trial in court.

“The Senator knew that he has to produce Maina in court during the trial period. Unfortunately, Maina appeared only once (first sitting) in eleven court sittings after being released on bail. This is not the best way to pay back,” he said.

He pleaded with Maina’s family, associates and colleagues to persuade him to appear in court so that Senator Ndume would be freed.

 

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