There was a disagreement between the prosecution and the defence teams about the whereabouts of Faisal Maina, son of Abdulrasheed Maina, the former chair of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), on Thursday.
While the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC)’s lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, claimed Faisal had fled to the United States (U.S), the defence lawyer, Anayo Adibe, said the defendant was recently arrested in Sokoto.
After patiently listening to the two parties, on Thursday, Okon Abang, the trial judge hearing the money laundering case against Faisal at the Federal High Court, Abuja, said he could not choose which of the two accounts to believe.
“Who is telling the court the truth between the counsel to the prosecution and the defence?” Mr Abang asked.
At the beginning of Thursday’s proceedings, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Abubakar, told the judge, Mr Abang, that the commission had been “making serious effort” to enforce the arrest warrant issued against Faisal by the court “but up till now, we have not succeeded.”
‘Fled to U.S.’
He said the available information at the EFCC’s disposal was that Faisal “has absconded to the United States of America.”
But the judge noted that he heard that Faisal was arrested in Sokoto by the police.
Responding, the anti-graft agency’s lawyer said that “that information was in the realm of rumour or speculation.”
Mr Abubakar added that although both the Nigerian and American passports of the defendant were still being held by the court as part of the bail conditions granted him, “the information at our disposal indicates that the defendant was able to sneak out to Republic of Niger from where he was able to proceed to the USA.”
He maintained that Faisal was neither in the custody of the police nor that of the State Security Service as being speculated.
‘He was arrested in Sokoto’
But defence lawyer, Anayo Adibe, recalled that he had informed the court that his client was taken into custody by the police in Sokoto.
He said there were media reports as well as a press release by the police command in Sokoto confirming the arrest.
Mr Adibe also said Faisal personally called him on phone the day he was taken into custody in Sokoto by the police.
He,however,noted that “every effort made to reach him has been abortive; his phone switched off.”
He added that the police had refused to release information about the defendant “even when we demanded to see the defendant.”
“So it is speculative of the prosecution to state that the defendant is in the USA,” he said, adding, “We are afraid for his life and we urge the court to make an order of enquiry into the whereabouts of the defendant.”
The judge, who said he could not choose which of the accounts to believe, adjourned the matter till March 31 for ruling on an application by defence lawyer praying that his client be given an opportunity to enter his defence.
The judge had earlier foreclosed the case of Faisal due to his consistent absence from court.
Surety’s bail bond forfeited
Earlier on Thursday, the trial judge, Mr Abang, ordered Faisal’s surety, Sani Dan-Galadima, who is a member of the House of Representatives, to forfeit a property used as a bail bond.
Mr Dan-Galadima, who represents Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara, had entered into a N60million bail bond on behalf of Faisal.
Maina tried to flee to U.S
Faisal’s father, Abdulrasheed Maina, is also being prosecuted for separate charges of money laundering at the court.
He jumped bail last year but was rearrested in Niger Republic.
Opposing a fresh bail application filed by Mr Maina, the EFCC had told the court that Mr Maina, with multiple citizenships, was trying to obtain a fresh passport with which to flee to the U.S when he was arrested in Niger Republic.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...