The Chairman, Senate Committee on the Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has said he can no longer stand as surety for the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Force Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is currently undergoing trial.
He said he would direct his legal team to begin the process of terminating the surety bond he signed for Maina because, according to him, the former pension boss could not be trusted.
This is as the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered that Maina should be remanded in custody till the end of his trial.
Justice Okon Abang made the order following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s prosecuting counsel, Mr Mohammed Abubakar.
Maina, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC on N2bn money laundering charges, had jumped bail and fled to the Republic of Niger.
But he was returned to court for the first time on Friday following his extradition to Nigeria earlier on Thursday.
Ndume, who is representing Borno South Senatorial District in the Senate, has stood surety for Maina, his constituent, as the judge had, as part of the bail conditions, demanded among others, that Maina should produce a serving senator as his surety.
Ndume agreed to stand surety for Maina but the latter jumped bail and escaped from Nigeria.
The judge subsequently remanded Ndume in the Kuje Correctional Centre following his inability to produce Maina when the case came up for hearing.
A legal battle ensued and Ndume was left off the hook while Maina, the fugitive, was arrested in the Niger Republic and extradited to Nigeria on Thursday.
Reacting to the development in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Friday, Ndume commended the Inspector-General of Police (Mohammed Adamu) and other security personnel that were involved in the arrest and extradition of Maina.
He said, “I commend the Nigeria Police Force for executing the bench warrant issued on Maina by the Federal High Court in Abuja.
“With the successful arrest, extradition and subsequent remand of Maina at the Kuje Correctional Centre, I will proceed to direct my legal team to begin the process of withdrawing my suretyship for Maina with immediate effect because his action has shown that he is not trustworthy.”
Ndume later told one of our correspondents on Friday evening that his hands were tied at the time he stood surety for Maina, adding that it was unfair to ask senators to stand for accused persons.
He said, “Considering the circumstances I found myself at that time, I have no regrets standing surety for him but it is not fair to always ask a serving senator to stand surety for every high profile personality accused of crime from his constituency.
“I stood surety for Maina because the bail condition stated that only a serving senator can bail him. Because his offence was bailable and he is constitutionally considered innocent until convicted by the court and as a politically exposed person, my hands were tied, but now that he jumped bail, my hand is now free.”
Ruling on EFCC’s application for remand order on Friday, Justice Abang said, “The defendant is already on a bench warrant, having jumped bail.
“So he shall be remanded in correctional centre pending the conclusion of the trial.”
A lawyer, Adaji Abel, who newly took over Maina’s defence on Friday, appealed to the judge to adjourn the case to enable him to prepare adequately for the case.
The judge acceded to the request and adjourned till December 8.
Earlier, the law firm of Joe Kyari-Gadzama (SAN) withdrew its legal representation for Maina.
This came barely 24 hours after another lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, who was appearing for the second defendant in the case, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, a firm said to be owned by Maina, obtained the permission of the court to quit the case.
Mr Francis Oronsaye representing the Kyari-Gadzama’s law firm, moved the application for the withdrawal of legal representation in the presence of Maina.
Oronsaye said, “We have filed a notice of withdrawal of legal representation dated November 24, 2020 and filed on November 25, 2020. We wish to adopt same.
“Our non-appearance in this matter for some time was not borne out of disrespect or disregard for this honourable court.
“We have written to the first defendant (Maina) indicating our intention to withdraw our representation. And we went further to file a notice of discontinuance of appearance.”
The EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Abubakar, did not oppose the application.
Justice Abang subsequently granted the order permitting Kyari-Gadzama’s application to quit the case.
Oronsaye also moved a similar application for the withdrawal of the law firm’s legal representation for Maina’s son, Faisal, and the prayer was granted by the judge.
Also on Friday, Justice Abang fixed December 11 for the adoption of final addresses in the money laundering trial of Faisal, who is said to have jumped bail.
He also fixed December 8 for his surety, a member of the House of Representatives, Sani Umar Dangaladima, representing the Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara State, to appear in court to show cause why he should not forfeit the N60m bail bond which he signed for the fleeing defendant or be sent to prison.