From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Faisal, the son of the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, who had been declared wanted by the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, has been arrested.
The development came as the trial of his father almost took a tragic turn when he slumped in court during the proceedings.
Maina, who is standing trial on a 12-count money laundering charge brought against him and his company, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), collapsed in court shortly after his case was called up on Thursday.
He slumped beside the dock at a time his counsel, Mr Anayo Adibe, was praying the court to adjourn the trial to a later date.
Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang has adjourned his trial to December 21.
Maina’s son is facing a three-count money laundering charge the anti-graft agency preferred against him.
The prosecution agency, the EFCC alleged that Faisal had sometimes between 2013 and 2019 received the sum of N58.11 million, being proceeds of a corrupt act by his father.
Faisal had reportedly pulled a gun to challenge operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) that arrested his father at a hotel in Abuja on September 30.
The defendant was initially remanded in police custody before he was released on bail by the orders of Justice Abang.
His arrest was confirmed on Thursday by the EFCC who told the court that the 21-year-old, who jumped bail since June 24, was apprehended by security operatives on Wednesday night.
The counsel to his surety, Mr Mohammed Sheriff, urged the court to suspend the hearing of the forfeiture case against his client in view of the arrest of the defendant.
‘My lord, I was reliably informed that the Defendant had been arrested. He was arrested last night and he is in custody,’ he said.
Counsel to the EFCC Mr Farouk Abdullah, who confirmed the development, however, said the Faisal has not been handed over to his client.
‘He is not in our custody yet, but we got information unofficially that he has been arrested,’ Abdullah added.
On his part, Mr Anayo Adibe, who announced appearance for Faisal also applied for suspension of the committal/forfeiture proceeding against the surety ‘to allow the court to ascertain the authenticity or otherwise of the Defendant’s status.’
In his ruling, Justice Abang dismissed the adjournment request and ordered the surety to move the application he filed to show cause why he should not forfeit the bail bond to Federal Government.
The judge had on November 24 revoked his bail and equally issued a bench warrant directing security agencies to arrest him wherever he is found.
Justice Abang further summoned the House of Representatives member representing Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency, Umar Dan-Galadima, who stood surety for the defendant, to show cause why he should not be remanded in custody or made to forfeit N60 million bail bond on the head of the defendant to the Federal Government.
Relying on section 352 (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Justice Abang also gave the EFCC the nod to prosecute the defendant in absentia.
The EFCC had since closed its case against him after it called three witnesses that testified in the matter.
The EFCC closed its case on Wednesday after it produced nine witnesses that testified in the matter, even as Maina notified the court of his decision to enter a no-case-submission to the charge against him.
Adibe was still on his feet when Maina fell down from his seat, a development that forced the court to temporarily suspend sitting.
In the panicky situation, some lawyers and officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service had promptly rushed to Maina’s aid after he collapsed.
Medical personnel from the court were later brought to the scene in a bid to resuscitate him.
Proceedings nevertheless resumed around 11 am, but Maina was not yet back to the courtroom.
In his ruling, Justice Abang refused the application for an adjournment but held that since the defendant was not back for the continuation of the proceedings, it would not foreclose his right to make the no-case-submission.
The court stressed that Certified True Copies (CTC) of all the records of proceedings Maina’s counsel requested were ready since December 8.
Justice Abang further confirmed from all the court registrars that Maina’s lawyer failed to return to pick up the compiled records.