From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The trial of the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) suffered a setback yesterday following an application by his lawyer, Mr. Sani Katu, SAN, to withdraw his legal services as defence counsel.
Katu is following in the footsteps of Chief Joe Kyari-Gadzama, SAN, Adeola Adedipe and Anayo Adipe who have all pulled out from the trial as defence counsel.
Daily Sun learnt that the latest move by Katu to withdraw his services may not be unconnected with Maina’s insistence to invite some personalities, including the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
Maina, has currently opened his defence to the 12-count money laundering charge, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, entered against him and his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited.
However, when the case was called yesterday, Katu who has been leading the defence team, informed the court of his decision to withdraw from the case.
He said: “My lord, the matter is adjourned for continuation of hearing and for us to bring another witness today. But, before then, we have an application we are compelled to make.
The application is to seek for leave of this court to withdraw from this matter. In doing this, we appreciate the court’s indulgence”.
But in opposing the withdrawal application, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Farouk Abdullah, urged the court to compel Maina and his defence team to proceed with the business of the day.
Abdullah argued that Maina’s lawyer, Katu, SAN, failed to fulfil the statutory condition precedent that would have paved way for him to withdraw from the trial.
My lord, as rightly stated, this matter is slated today for continuation of defence. While we concede that a Defendant has the constitutional right to a counsel of his choice, and a counsel in the matter can also withdraw at any time he deems fit.
“However, our only reservation is the non-compliance to section 349(8) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.”