Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the remand of Senator Ali Ndume at Kuje prison for failing to produce the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, in court.
Maina is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of fraud, abuse of public office, and money laundering.
He was arraigned on October 25, 2019, on a 12-count charge.
Specifically, the EFCC alleged before the court that Maina abused his position as chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team by awarding fictitious contracts for purported biometric enrolment of pensioners, an offence that is punishable under Section 317 (read in conjunction with section 316) of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, vol. 4, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, 2007.
He was granted bail by the court in the sum of N500 million with one surety in the like sum who must be a serving senator with ownership of property worth N500 million in Abuja.
However, after about six months in prison due to his inability to meet the bail conditions, Senator Ndume volunteered and stood surety for Maina with a proviso to pay the Federal Government N500 million in case Maina jumped bail.
Upon his release from prison, Maina, for four consecutive times, did not appear in court.
His lawyers did not adduce any cogent or verifiable reasons for his absence but had been evasive.
Ndume’s ordeal started when he told the court of his inability to locate Maina since he was granted bail.
As the deadline given to Ndume to produce Maina elapsed, he still informed the court that he did not know the whereabouts of the suspect.
In a bench ruling on Monday, Justice Abang ordered Ndume’s remand pending the fulfilment of his bail bond which is a forfeiture of the 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.
Justice Abang added that Senator Ndume would be released from Kuje prison once he was able to pay the bail sum to the Federal Government or if the prosecutor was able to dispose of the property and payment made to the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the trial in absentia of Maina begins on Tuesday, November 24.
Credit: Daily Independent