By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered the arrest of former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, following his repeated failure to appear for continuation of his trial on money laundering charges.
The court, in a ruling by trial Justice Okon Abang, revoked the bail it earlier granted to the Defendant who is facing a 12-count criminal charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against him and a firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited.
Aside from directing security agencies to track down and arrest the erstwhile pension boss, the trial court, gave the anti-graft agency the nod to try him in absentia.
More so, the court fixed November 23 for the Senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, who stood surety for the Defendant, to show cause why he should not forfeit the N500million bail bond to the Federal Government.
The orders followed an application the EFCC made pursuant to sections 184 and 335(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.
The court agreed with the EFCC that Maina’s absence from his trial on four successive dates, was without a cogent or verifiable evidence.
It will be recalled that Maina spent over seven months on remand at the Kuje Correctional Center before the court released on bail after Senator Ndume agreed to stand surety for him.
EFCC alleged that he used account of the firm and laundered funds to the tune of about N2billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.
In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, EFCC, alleged that the ex-Pension boss 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.
The ex-Pension boss however pleaded not guilty to the charge
Though the prosecution has already opened its case and called witnesses that included bankers and Maina’s relatives, who testified and tendered exhibits in evidence before the court, the Defendant, since September 29, failed to make further appearance in the matter.
Senator Ndume had on October 2 when the matter came up for trial, informed the court that he does not know the whereabouts of the Defendant.
The lawmaker lamented before the court that all his efforts to locate the 1st Defendant proved abortive.
Ndume also begged the court to issue an arrest warrant to enable security operatives to track down and apprehend Maina.