A Division of the Federal High Court Abuja, Monday granted an application by ex-Chairman, Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, for further variation of his bail conditions.
Maina bail conditions it would be recalled sailed through eight months after he failed to meet the terms.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2019, charged Maina and his son, Faisal, before the court alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd.
Although Maina is charged with 12-counts bordering on money laundering, he had, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Justice Abang had, on Jan. 28, varied Miana’s bail conditions, following his inability to meet the bail terms granted him on Nov. 26, 2019.
Abang reduced Maina’s bail condition from N1 billion to N500 million with a surety in the like sum who must be a serving senator as opposed to the earlier order of producing two serving senators.
In his ruling, Justice Okon Abang, said he was inclined to granting Maina’s prayer on compassionate ground, saying he had been able to produce a serving senator in the country.
Maina had through his lawyer, Joe Gadzama, SAN, on June 23, informed the court that Sen. Ali Ndume, representing Borno South, had decided to stand as surety for him.
Gadzama said though the condition had been met, the certificate of occupancy (C of O) of the Abuja property of the senator, which the court stated as a condition, did not bear his name.
The lawyer said the certificate was in the name of the original owner, one Lawan Ahmed.
Gadzama, who stated that Ndume was now the owner of the property, explained that there was an irrevocable letter of attorney (Exhibit G2) signed by the Director of Land in the FCTA, Mr G. Bawa, and addressed to the registrar of the court to back the claim.
“The power of attorney is irrevocable; the donor cannot get it back.
“That is why it is as good as the certificate of occupancy in this situation, it supercede the certificate because it is latest in time,” he stressed.
He also told the court to reconsider the condition that Ndume must always come to court at every adjourned date to sign the court register, considering the state assignment before the lawmaker.
Ndume, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, had, in a statement on June 24, also admitted standing as surety for Maina.
He revealed that it took him six months of painful consideration to agree to be a surety for the ex-Pension boss, adding that it was part of the cross he had to carry as Maina’s elected senator.
The lawmaker who described the decision as hard added that as representative of the people of Borno South, he was duty bound to represent the good, bad and the ugly.
At the ruling on Monday, Justice Abang said he had carefully considered the arguments of parties.
Abang noted that it was within the court jurisdiction to either grant bail by vacating the existing conditions or grant new conditions.
He said though Gadzama, who is counsel to Maina, described the conditions of the bail as “suffocating and unbearable,” the judge said such submission was baseless going by the facts placed before the court by the EFCC.
“I felt the statement that the conditions were suffocating seems to portray the court as being inhuman in my view.
“I know the court is not inhuman. I take the fact of the case the way I understand the law.
“If you consider the fact of this case, u will agree with me because in the affidavit of the defendant (Maina), he said he was ready to fulfill the bail on any condition,” he said.
Besides, Abang stated that in the EFCC argument, Maina was said to be “a flight risk and that he comes into and out of the country through illegal routes.”
He noted that the anti-graft agency argued that “he will jump bail if granted; that he does not reside in the country; that his international passport does not indicate that he ever travels outside the country through legal means.
The judge said, with this development, he had to consider the competing rights of the parties.
“And that is why I arrived at a senator in standing surety for the 1st defendant, not somebody who does not have stake in the affairs of this country.
“That is why I said I took a risk in admitting him to bail, based on the weighty allegations by EFCC which the 1st defendant did not challenged,” he said.
Taking the prayers one after the order in the affidavit deposed to by Maina’s wife, Laila, the judge refused to grant the plea by the senator on coming to sign court register at each adjourned.
“I think the issue of signing registrar has been settled by the surety. The court cannot revisit this again.
“The surety has already signed an affidavit of means, especially in Paragraph 9 which he said I shall fulfill the bond of oath.
“Having agreed to come to court with the defendant, this cannot be jettison by any person other than Senator Ndume,” he ruled.
He held that Ndume understood clearly what he deposed to in the affidavit of means on May 5.
The judge, therefore, disagreed in the affidavit deposed to by Laila that it might be difficult for the lawmaker to be coming to court at every sitting, describing it as “a documentary hearsay.”
However, Justice Abang granted Maina’s prayer on the acceptance of irrevocable power of attorney as C of O.
“I note here that the name on the C of O is not in the name of Senator Ndume.
I also note that the certificate of occupancy cannot be issued twice.
“I also note that the applicant cannot wait until the FCT minister signs another certificate in his name.
“I think on compassionate ground, the court will accept the irrevocable power of attorney as condition for a certificate of title.
“This is so because the defendant has met with the main condition of producing a senator,” he held.
Abang warned that if Maina jumped bail in an unlikely event, the court might either order the remand of Ndume in a correctional centre or for the surety to forfeit the penal sum.
The judge also said that both penalties might be meted out against the surety if the defendant jumped bail.
He, however, advised Maina not to attempt to jump bail “by putting his surety in embarrassing situation.
“In the light of the humane disposition of the court on compassionate time, there is the need to further vary the already varied conditions for the 1st defendant to meet his nail conditions and stand his trial,” he ruled.
The judge, therefore, ordered that Item 1(c) in the enrole order be varied.
He then adjourned the matter until July 2 for trial continuation.