Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court yesterday ordered the remand of Senator Ali Ndume at the Correctional Centre, Kuje, for failing to produce the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is alleged to have jumped bail.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Maina before the court over alleged N2 billion fraud. He was, however, granted bail by the court in the sum of N500 million with one surety in the like sum who the court said, must be a serving senator with ownership of property worth N500 million in Abuja.
Maina spent about six months in prison due to his inability to meet the bail conditions. He only regained his freedom when Ndume volunteered and stood surety for him with a proviso to pay the Federal Government N500M in case Maina bolts away.
Following his release from prison on the strength of Ndume’s suretyship, Maina, on four occasions, refused to appear in court without any cogent or verifiable reasons. Matters came to worse when Ndume told the court of his inability to locate Maina since he was released on bail.
The court had last Wednesday issued a warrant of arrest against Maina. The order was necessitated by the persistent absence of Maina in court to stand trial in the N2 billion fraud charges brought against him by the federal government.
Justice Okon Abang issued the order after revoking the N500 million bail he granted Maina on the ground that it has been abused. Accordingly, he ordered security agents in the country to arrest Maina anywhere he is found and bring him before the court. The court also gave Ndume, who stood surety for Maina, a five- day ultimatum to show cause why he would not forfeit the N500 million bail bond to the Federal Government.
The last warning given Ndume to produce Maina expired with the same excuse that he did not know Maina’s whereabouts. In a bench ruling, Abang ordered Ndume’s remand, pending the fulfillment of his bail bond, which is a forfeiture of N500 million to the Federal Government. The court also empowered the Federal Government to sell Ndume’s property at Asokoro in order to recover the N500 million bail bond.
Abang added that Ndume shall be released from Kuje prison once he is able to pay the N500 million to the Federal Government or if the prosecutor is able to dispose the property and payment made to the Federal Government. The trial in absentia of Maina has been fixed for November 24, 2020.