The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered the remand of former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, Mallam Abulrasheed Maina, in prison custody till the conclusion of his trial over money laundering charges.
Maina is facing a 12-count money laundering charge preferred against him and his firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The court order for his prison remand came barely 24 hours after he was arrested at Niger Republic by the International Police (InterPol) and extradited to Nigeria.
It would be recalled that the Defendant fled the country after he jumped bail and had since September 29, refused to appear before the court for continuation of his trial.
Following his jumping bail, the court, on November 18 issued a warrant for his arrest, revoked his bail and ordered his trial in absentia.
His surety, Senator Ali Ndume who represents Borno South in the Senate, was subsequently remanded in custody on the order of the court but was released on bail after he had spent five days in Kuje prison.
The EFCC, produced the Defendant in court on Friday and the Prosecution counsel, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, applied that Maina should be remanded in prison custody since the court had revoked his bail.
The anti-graft commission made the application shortly after the team of lawyers that earlier represented the Defendant, led by Chief J. K. Gadazama, SAN, got the approval of the court to withdraw from the case.
One of the legal counsels, Barrister Francis Oronsaye, said the decision to withdraw from the matter was based on Maina’s conduct which, he said, embarrassed their Chambers.
A lawyer, Barrister Adaji Abel, told the court that Maina briefed him on Friday to take over his defence and pleaded the court for a short adjournment to enable him properly appraise the case-file.
However, the adjournment request was opposed by EFCC’s lawyer, who relied on section 349 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, and urged the court continue the trial by allowing the 9th witness, Mrs. Rouquayya lbrahim, to continue her Evidence-in-Chief.
In his ruling, Justice Okon Abang said he was inclined to grant Maina’s new lawyer’s request “in the overall interest of justice”, by granting him a short date.
The court, however, ordered the remand of the 1st Defendant at Kuje Correctional Centre.
Justice Abang held: “The Defendant is already on bench warrant having jumped bail and his bail having been revoked. So, he shall be remanded in correctional center, pending the conclusion of the trial.”
The case was subsequently adjourned to December 8 for continuation of hearing.
The EFCC had alleged that Maina used a bank account that was operated by his firm and laundered funds to the tune of about N2 billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.
The anti-graft agency also told the court that the Defendant used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts and recruited his relatives that were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.
The Defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Meanwhile, before adjourning, the court also fixed December 11 for the EFCC to adopt its final written address in a separate money laundering charge pending against Maina’s son, Faisal.
Faisal, who is facing a 3-count charge, also jumped bail like his father.