A Nigerian senator, Ali Ndume, told the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, that he is unable to find Abdulrasheed Maina, an ex-pension boss for whom he is acting as surety.
Mr Maina is accused of diverting N100 billion of pension funds and is also facing trial for alleged money laundering.
He is being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 12-count charge, accused of operating fictitious accounts and carrying out fraudulent activities.
The former pension chief, who was in hiding for almost two years, was arrested by the State Security Service last year.
The SSS handed over Mr Maina, who headed the pension reform task team, to the EFCC, which had declared him wanted for over a year.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the North-east senator agreed to act as a guarantor for Mr Maina.
‘I can’t find him’
When Mr Ndume was asked of the whereabouts of Mr Maina, whom the judge said had failed to appear in court for the third time within one week,” the senator responded: “My lord, I must confess, I do not know”.
Okon Abang, the trial judge, at the beginning of the trial, had ordered Mr Maina to provide a current and serving senator as surety in exchage for bail.
Mr Maina has also requested that the judge reduce the bail bond from N1 billion to N500 million, a request the judge agreed to. He also agreed that Mr Maina provide one surety instead of two.
Mr Ndume later explained why he stood surety for Mr Maina.
He then provided documents of a property he owns in Abuja worth N500 million as a bond.
However, both men were absent for court sessions scheduled for September 29.
When Mr Ndume attended the court session on September 30, he was not accompanied by Mr Maina.
Rattled senator, angry judge
Meanwhile, Mr Ndume told the court the defendant was absent September 29 because of an armed attack on the convoy of Babagana Zulum, Governor of Borno State. He said Mr Maina (apparently part of the convoy) was admitted in the hospital.
He also said he expected Mr Maina to attend the court session because “his (Maina’s) wife said so.”
He also told the court that “I know Maina’s residence in Kaduna but not in Abuja”.
The senator beseeched the court to grant him more time to find the defendant. The defence lawyer, Farouk Oronsaye, also urged the court to adjourn the case.
However, Farouk Abdullah, the prosecuting counsel, disagreed.
He told the court “Mr Maina was not a patient at Maitama General Hospital.” He urged the court to issue an arrest warrant for him “as it seems he had jumped bail.”
An exasperated judge told Mr Ndume he is not pleased with the conduct of the suspect, adding that he (Ndume) “should have been aware of the many risks involved in standing as surety”.
He then adjourned the case till October 5 adding that “both the surety and defendant must be present in court that day.”