The former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on charges of money laundering in the sum of N2 billion, is facing a difficult task of getting a surety for his bail. Either the former Pension boss is facing integrity or distrust crisis that no one can take the risk of standing bail for him or his friends may have deliberately abandoned him and declined to come forward in the fear that he might abscond or jump bail after his release from detention.
Accordingly, Maina who is finding it difficult to find a surety, on Monday approached the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to alter and mitigate some of the conditions attached to the N1 billion bail granted him by the Federal High Court, Abuja in November 2019.
It will be recalled that Maina, who is facing prosecution with his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, has been on remand in Abuja since October 2019 because of his failure to meet the bail conditions.
The former Pension Fund boss appealed to Justice Okon Abang on Monday that the part of the bail conditions requiring him to produce two sureties who must be serving senators with landed properties worth N500 million each in Maitama or Asokoro, two highbrow areas of Abuja, was excessive and stringent.
Main, therefore, requested the court to drop the conditions in the interest of justice.
At the hearing of the bail variation application filed by Maina on December 6, 2019, the defendant’s lawyer, Mr. Afam Osigwe, said while his client had met other conditions, it had been impossible for him to get senators to serve as the sureties.
While commending the judge for granting bail to his client, Osigwe said the bail conditions were “excessive and impossible to meet”.
“The stringent and excessive nature of the conditions are evidenced by the inability of the first defendant/applicant (Maina) to meet those conditions as of today, January 13, 2020.
“The conditions he is unable to meet are set out in paragraph 4 of the affidavit filed in support.
“The sureties (proposed) whose names are also mentioned said they do not have properties worth N500m in either Asokoro or Maitama.”
In response, the judge questioned if the defence team had conducted a search of the land registry in Abuja to confirm the claim of the proposed sureties.
Adding that the conditions were attached to the bail for a reason, adding that the defence team which argued the bail application in November last year failed to challenge EFCC’s claim that Maina was no longer resident Nigeria.
Osigwe said his team considered it to be discourteous to go behind the proposed sureties to confirm their claims.
He added that the Abuja Geographic Information System, the equivalent of land registry in Abuja, operates a procedure that prohibits a person to conduct a search of ownership of landed properties without producing the original copies of the title documents and the consent letter of the owners.
He added that the fact that the judge granted bail to his client implied that the defendant deserved bail.
He said his client’s Nigerian and American passports along with his Dubai residence permit had been deposited with the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja where he is being prosecuted for separate charges.
The judge adjourned further hearing of Maina’s application till Tuesday.
He also adjourned further trial till Tuesday to enable the third prosecution witness, Mavis Enabulele, to conclude his testimony.
Earlier, the court admitted the statements of bank accounts belonging to Maina and four others as exhibits.
In admitting the documents as exhibits, the judge dismissed the objection by Maina’s lawyer, Mohammed Monguno, and his firm’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, to the admissibility of the documents.
Apart from Maina’s bank accounts, others whose documents relating to the bank accounts were admitted as exhibits were, Cluster Logistics, Kangolo Dynamics Cleaning Services, Nafisastu Aliyu, and Drew Investment and Construction Limited.
As part of the conditions of the bail granted him by Justice Okon Abang on November 25, 2019, the court had directed him to produce two serving senators, to guarantee the N1 billion bail sum.
The judge added, “The sureties must have landed property fully developed in Asokoro or Maitama District of Abuja with statutory certificates of occupancy issued by relevant departments of the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory.
“The chief registrar of this court shall, in writing, ascertain the validity or otherwise of the certificates of occupancy.
“The sureties shall each submit three years tax clearance certificates immediately breeding the application.”
The judge added that the sureties to be produced by Maina must undertake to appear in court with him at every trial dates, pending conclusion of the case.
He added that should at least one of the defendants fail to appear with Maina at any court sitting, the bail would be revoked.