…As surety forfeits property worth N60m bail bond to FG
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday told the Federal High Court in Abuja that Faisal Maina, who is facing trial for money laundering, has escaped to the United States of America.
21-year-old Faisal is the son of former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, Abulrasheed Maina, who is equally answering to separate money laundering charge.
Faisal had since June 24, 2020, failed to appear before the court for his trial, a development that led to the revocation of his bail.
Trial Justice Okon Abang had in a ruling on November 24, 2020, also issued a bench warrant for security agencies to arrest him wherever he is found.
Aside initiating a commital proceeding against his surety, the court gave EFCC the nod to conduct the trial in the absence of the Defendant.
Meanwhile, at the resumed sitting yesterday, counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar told the court that information at the disposal of the Commission was that the Defendant absconded to the US.
The Prosecution counsel told the court that Faisal sneaked out of Nigeria to the Republic of Niger, from where he was able to escape to USA.
Abubakar said there was no truth in a previous information that Police arrested the Defendant in Sokoto State.
He wondered how the Defendant was able to escape to the US, when both his Nigerian and American passports, which he surrendered as part of his bail conditions, are still in the custody of the court.
“We have been making serious efforts to execute the bench warrant, but up to now we have not succeeded,” Abubakar added.
In the circumstance, he urged the court to allow the Prosecution to adopt its final written address in the matter.
Responding, the defence lawyer, Mr. Anayo Adibe urged the court to order an enquiry into the whereabouts of his client.
Adibe told the court that the Sokoto Police Command had earlier issued a press statement that Faisal was in its custody.
He told the court that he also received a call from Faisal who confirmed to him that he was arrested by the police.
“My lord, since then, the police has been scanty with information, even when we demanded to see the Defendant.
“Travelling documents of the Defendant are in custody of this court, it is therefore speculative for the Prosecution to state that the Defendant is in US.
“How could he enter USA without his travelling documents? The Defendant personally called me the day he was taken into custody in Sokoto. Every effort made thereafter to reach him have been abortive.
“Of a truth, we are afraid for his life. We urge this court to call for an enquiry into the whereabouts of the Defendant,” Adibe added.
He equally prayed the court to, in the interest of justice and fair hearing, vacate its order forclosing his client from either cross-examining the witnesses that testified in the matter or entering his defence to the charge.
EFCC, however, countered the application, insisting that the court had pursuant to section 352(4) of ACJA, 2015, ordered trial of the Defendant in absentia.
It argued that the Defendant was never denied fair hearing by the court.
“He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. In the instant application, the Defendant is coming to equity with soiled hands. We therefore urge the court to refuse the application,” the Prosecution counsel added.
After he had listened to both sides, Justice Abang adjourned the matter till March 31 to rule on the application.
He held that should the application succeed, EFCC, would re-open its case against the Defendant.
“If dismissed, the Prosecution will be allowed to adopt its final written address and the matter will be adjourned for judgement,” Justice Abang held.
Earlier in the proceeding, the court, ordered a member of the House of Representatives for Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency, Umar Dan-Galadima, who stood surety for Faisal, to forfeit a property used as the bail bond.
EFCC had in the charge before the court, alleged that Maina’s son had sometimes between 2013 and 2019, received the sum of N58.11 million, being proceeds of a corrupt act by his father.
He was also accused of failing to properly declare his assets before the EFCC.
Faisal had reportedly pulled a gun to challenge operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS that arrested his father at a hotel in Abuja on September 30, 2019.
It will be recalled that his father, Maina also jumped bail and was later arrested in Niger Republic and extradited to the country by the Interpol.