The Senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, who stood as the surety for the embattled ex-chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina, has cried out over his inability to compel Maina to appear before the court.
Recall that Maina is standing trial before the Federal High Court over alleged pension fraud.
On 2 October, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang had ordered Ndume to produce Maina on the next date, today, failing which he could be penalized.
At the mention of the case on Monday, lead prosecution lawyer, Farouk Abdullah noted that Maina was absent.
Farouk sought the court’s permission to apply that the court revokes the bail granted Maina, orders Ndume to pay the N500 bail bond which he signed, and to allow the prosecution to continue the trial in Maina’s absence as allowed under Section 352(4) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
When asked about his client’s whereabouts, Oronsaye said: “The information we have is that the defendant is admitted in hospital after the surgery.
“He Maina said he was undergoing treatment after the surgery and the location was not disclosed.”
Oronsaye urged the court to discountenance Farouk’s suggestions and added: “My lord, the liberty of the defendant is an issue and we submit that utmost care ought to be taken before such liberty is tampered with, especially as the law still presumes him innocent.”
When the judge asked Mr Ndume about Maina’s whereabouts, the Senator said: “My lord, I understand that the defendant is in Abuja and I did all I can to locate him without any definite result. My lord, I am constrained because I can’t take the law into my own hands.
“I had reported to the DG SSS, the AIG of Police Investigation. I even wrote to the Police Commissioner and I also reported the case to the DPO of Jabi where the defendant resides.
“But my lord, 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.”
When the judge told him that issuing a warrant of arrest would mean Ndume would first be remanded going by the law, the Senator said: “I don’t mind my lord. My concern is to have him in court so that I can continue my life.”
“As a senator serving him (Maina), his family, wife, mother, and uncle appealed to me to stand as a surety.
“I went to prison to confirm for myself whether he was actually sick and the prison officers told me that he was actually sick and appealed to me to be his surety so that he could have access to medical attention.
He said he was prevailed on by former governors of Abia, Plateau, and Taraba States, Orji Uzor Kalu, Joshua Dariye, and Jolly Nyame, who were then undergoing different jail terms for corruption in the Abuja prison, to stand as Maina’s surety.
“It took me eight months my lord to take that decision. In fact, I had to be given an indemnity by his uncle; signed by me, he and a lawyer that Maina would always be in court,” he added.
But responding Justice Abang said he could not order Maina’s arrest without ordering the senator’s detention.
The judge then gave Ndume 21 days to produce the defendant in court.