…allege bias, victimization of their son
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Kinsmen of former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is facing trial on money laundering charges, have asked Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja to hands-off the case against their son.
Relatives of the ex-Pension boss, in a statement that was signed by their spokesman, Aliyu Maina, accused the trial Judge of bias, alleging that he made several prejudicial statements against the Defendant, in the open court.
They alleged that aside from teleguiding the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on how to present its case, the Judge, insisted that their son who is critically ill and on hospital admission, must present himself in court for trial.
The statement from Maina’s Kinsmen in Biu Local Government of Borno State, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, read: “We have painstakingly followed the trial of our illustrious son, Abdulrasheed Maina before Justice Okon Abang’s court and have reached the following conclusion;
“That the trial of the former pension boss, Abdulrasheed Maina before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has been tainted with extreme elements of bias and injustice.
“We are asking Justice Okon Abang to recuse himself from the said case in the interest of justice and fairness.
“To this end, we urge the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, as a matter of urgency to wade into the matter.
“That Justice Okon Abang is biased in his treatment of our son in the suit filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“We are of the common view that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has failed to take off the case from Justice Abang who has exhibited bias”.
They alleged that the judge had insisted on the appearance of Maina for trial, despite a medical report that showed that he is critically ill and on admission at Maitama District Hospital.
“A critical observation of the proceedings so far revealed that the trial Judge had descended into the area of conflict because on several occasions, Justice Abang has teleguided the prosecution team on how to conduct their case in the open court to the detriment of our illustrious son.
“That apart from tailoring the trial to the huge advantage of the EFCC, the judge had made several prejudicial statements in the open court against the ex-pension boss, in a manner that suggests a preconceived judgement”.
Alleging that it was “herculean bail conditions” Justice Abang handed to Maina that prolonged his incarceration at the Kuje Correctional Centre, his relatives, said they were not confident in the ability of the Judge to try their son objectively.
“We will hold the Judge responsible if our son dies before the conclusion of the case, as he is one of the best brains in Nigeria.
“We will not sit and watch injustice being meted against our son because of the selfish interest of some power block who have shamelessly re-looted what our son recovered for Nigeria.
“We will do everything that is lawful to ensure that our son does not appear before Justice Abang until he recuse himself from the matter”, the statement further read.
Maina is answering to a 12-count criminal charge the EFCC preferred against him and a firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited, which the agency alleged was used to launder funds to the tune of about N2billion, part of which it said the ex-Pension boss used to acquire landed properties in Abuja
In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, EFCC alleged that Maina used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts, as well as recruited his relatives that were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.
At the resumed proceedings in the case last Friday, the prosecution, alleged that Maina has jumped bail, even as it applied for a bench warrant to be issued against him.
The application came after the Defendant failed to appear in court for his trial on two successive dates, though his lawyer, Francis Oronsaye, tendered a medical report to prove that he was on admission in hospital.
Though Justice Abang declined to issue the bench warrant, he, however, ordered the Senator for Borno South, Ali Ndume, who stood surety for the Defendant, to produce him in court on Monday.