Crime

Alleged N2bn fraud: I’m Maina’s surety but can’t find him, Ndume tells court

The senator representing Borno South and Chairman of Senate Committee on the Army, Ali Ndume, who is standing as bail surety for a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, said on Friday that he could no longer find the defendant whom he had made legal commitment to always produce in court for his trial.

Ndume said this at the Federal High Court in Abuja while responding to the judge’s query about Maina’s absence for the third time in a row within one week.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Maina on 12 counts of money laundering involving about N2bn.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, had ordered Maina to provide a serving senator as a surety for the bail granted him.

The judge had, following Maina’s repeated requests, twice varied the bail conditions, reducing the bail sum from the original N1bn to N500m with only one surety as opposed two originally requested by the court.

The only surety who must be a serving senator must be ready to accompany the defendant to court and sign the court’s register of attendance for every hearing session, the judge had ordered.

Ndume who represents Borno South Senatorial District where Maina hails from, later agreed to serve as the defendant’s surety.

In line with the terms and conditions of the bail which the judge gave in January 2020, Ndume gave legal commitment to accompany the defendant to court every trial date and provided the court with the title documents of his property worth N500m in a choice area of Abuja as a guarantee.

But both Maina and Ndume were absent for the proceedings scheduled to hold on September 29.

The senator, who subsequently attended court on September 30 without Maina, explained to the judge on Friday that he was absent from the September 29 proceedings due to the Boko Haram attack on the convoy of the Governor of Borno State.

He told the court that Maina’s doctor had said the defendant was admitted in hospital.

He said he was expecting Maina to be in court on Friday following an earlier assurance by the defendant’s wife.

Asked by the judge if he knew the defendant’s whereabouts, the senator said, “My lord, I must confess, I do not know.”

The senator who recalled that he agreed to serve as Maina’s surety following pleas by the defendant’s wife and uncle, also said, “I did not foresee these circumstances, my lord.”

He said he did not know Maina’s residence in Abuja, but knew the one in Kaduna.

The senator pleaded for more time to enable him to find the defendant.

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