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The former chairman, Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, who is facing trial for alleged money laundering will remain in the Correctional Centre in Kuje, till January 2020.

Mr Maina’s son, Faisal, is also being prosecuted for money laundering by the anti-graft agency, EFCC.

At the last adjourned date, the court had granted Faisal’s plea to be transferred to Kuje Correctional Centre from Police Tactical Squad, Asokoro.

Mr Maina is being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering, operating fictitious accounts and other fraudulent activities.

The former PRTT chairman, who was in hiding for almost two years, was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS).

The SSS then handed over Mr Maina to the EFCC, which had declared him wanted for over a year.

Mr Faisal was arrested alongside his father in September. The father is accused of diverting N100 billion of pension funds.

His son is accused of operating an account he used to divert various sums of money, including N58 million.

The two men were arraigned by the EFCC on October 25 on separate charges. They pleaded not guilty.

Wednesday’s court session

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, the presiding judge, Okon Abang, adjourned Mr Maina’s trial to January 13 to hear his application for bail variation and that of Faisal to January 20, for the continuation of his trial.

Meanwhile, Justice Abang had said that though it would not be convenient for the court to take trial, but the arguments for Mr Maian’s application for bail variation would be taken.

However, the EFCC’s lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, said he was ready for the continuation of the trial and that the prosecution’s next witness was in court.

Responding, Mr Maina’s lawyer, Mohammed Monguno, reminded the court of the pending application on bail variation filed on December 6.

It was after Mr Munguno’s submission that the EFCC lawyer asked the court to adjourn the hearing on the bail variation application because Mr Maina’s lawyer had just served him an affidavit the same day.

“We apply that the hearing is adjourned to enable us to react to their further affidavit,” he said.

Mr Monguno, while describing the motion as “simple application,” said the prosecution’s call for adjournment was to delay the proceeding.

“We were the ones who filed a further affidavit in response to their counter affidavit.

“We urge Your Lordship not to grant their prayer because it is an attempt to delay this matter,” he said.

Meanwhile, the lawyer to Mr Maina’s company, Deborah Apete, agreed with the submission of Mr Monguno, saying that “the motion is ripe for hearing.”

But in his argument, Mr Abubakar said Mr Maina’s application was brought relevant to the provision of Administrative of Criminal Justice Act(ACJA),2015 and the 1999 constitution as amended.

The EFCC lawyer, however, said that there was no provision in ACJA or the constitution that prevents one from filing further counter-affidavit in reaction to further affidavit filed by the applicant.

“What the first defendant filed was a further and better affidavit.

“Section 36 of 1999 Constitution affords us the right to file further counter-affidavit,” he said.

The anti-graft agency’s lawyer said Mr Maina’s application was filed on December 17 “but they deliberately served him December 18”.

This, he said, is in order to deny the EFCC right to a fair hearing by way of responding to the further and better affidavit.

“We urge Your Lordship to discountenance the learned senior counsel’s plea,” he added.

In a short ruling, Justice Abang acknowledged that he had already signified his intention to take the application.

The judge said that there was no provision of ACJA stopping the prosecution from filing further counter-affidavit.

“What is fair is fair in both civil and criminal proceeding.

“I think the law allows the prosecution to file a further counter-affidavit,” he said, citing Denis Amadi and Ozor Mbachi 2016 case in which the Court of Appeal overruled his decision.

Prior to this, the judge adjourned taking the application for bail variation to January 13, while that of the continuation of the trial to January 14, 15, 16 and 17, 2020.

Justice Abang also adjourned the trial of Faisal to January 20 and 21, 2020.

The judge said it would not “be convenient for the court to take a further trial today.”

He said the date would also used to cross-examine the second prosecution witness.

Bail conditions

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the court on November 25, admitted the former pension chairman to bail in the sum of N1 billion.

Justice Abang, who gave the ruling, also ordered that Mr Maina must produce two sureties who must be serving senators.

The judge said the two lawmakers, must not be standing any criminal trial in any court in the country.

He also ruled that the two sureties, who must be prepared for an N500 million bond each, must always be in court with the defendant at each adjourned date.

In the same vein, the court on November 26, also admitted Faisal to bail in the sum of N60 million with one surety in like sum.

Justice Abang, in his ruling, also held that the surety must be an owner of landed property anywhere within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“The surety shall give an undertaking to attend the trial, and that where the surety fails without cogent reason, the court is at liberty to revoke the bail,” Mr Abang ruled.

The surety must also produce three years tax clearance certificate, the judge said.

The judge further said Mr Faisal must deposit his American and Nigerian passports and two recent photographs to the court..

Mr Maina and his son are yet to meet their bail conditions, which means that they will remain in the correctional centre till 2020.

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