Former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, has been released from Kuje Correctional Centre nine months after his detention, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has confirmed.
Mr Maina, who was arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Okon Abang, on October 25, 2019, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his son, Faisal, and firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd., had been in detention since the period.
However, Mr Maina’s Lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, in a telephone interview with NAN on Tuesday, said the ex-PRTT boss was finally released on Monday evening after completing the necessary documents for his freedom.
Mr Adedipe, who is from the chamber of Lawyer Ahmed Raji, SAN, said though Mr Maina should have been released July 24, it was delayed till this week due to administrative procedures.
“It was already late last week Friday so they now have a new timeline shifted at 6 ‘O’ clock.
“We went there and everything was done,” he said.
On why Mr Maina had been kept in detention after Mr Abang further varied his bail conditions on June 29, the lawyer said: “It was also administrative. There were lapses here and there; transmission of processes from one department of government to another.”
He, however, said the development had nothing to do with an act of vindictiveness on the part of the government officials.
Mr Adedipe, who expressed happiness over the release, said the action would not only afford his client to have adequate medical attention but would also afford him time to prepare for his defence.
“We can only thank God and this is good for us because we will now have time to prepare for his defence; we will now have goof conferencing on the matter.
“We will have a better perspective of what the case is all about. And this will also allow him to treat himself knowing he has been very ill in order to stand the trial,” he said.
Another counsel to Mr Maina, Afam Osigwe, also confirmed that his client had been released from the correctional centre.
“Yes, Maina came out yesterday (Monday). We have met all the bail conditions but they did not release him until yesterday,” he said.
Mr Osigwe said he was happy Mr Maina had been released on bail and that the development would allow him to attend to his health challenge and continue his trial.
The ex-Pension Reform boss, through his lawyer, Joe Gadzama, SAN, had, on June 23, informed the court that Ali Ndume, the senator representing Borno South, had decided to stand as surety for him.
Mr Ndume, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, had, in a statement on June 24, had also admitted standing as surety for Mr Maina.
He revealed that it took him six months of painful consideration to agree to be a surety for the ex-Pension boss, and that it was part of the cross he had to carry as Mr Maina’s elected senator.
The lawmaker said, “It was a hard decision I had to make because I have a duty to represent the good, the bad and the ugly of Borno South.”
Mr Abang had, on January 28, varied Mr Maina’s bail conditions, following his inability to meet the bail terms granted him on November 26, 2019.
Mr Abang reduced Mr Maina’s bail condition from N1 billion to N500 million with a surety in the like sum who must be a serving senator as opposed to the earlier order of producing two serving senators.
The judge ruled that the surety, who should not have a criminal case pending in any court, must have a landed property fully developed in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II, Katampe or Central Business Districts of Abuja, with Certificate of Occupancy attached as evidence.
Mr Abang also ruled that the senator would always come to the court at every adjourned date, the lawmaker only needed to come and sign a court register that would be opened at the registry, among other terms.
However, Mr Maina had been unable to get a senator as surety for his release until Mr Ndume decided to do so.
Mr Abang, who had, on June 29, considered the arguments of parties, said it was within the court’s jurisdiction to either grant bail by vacating the existing conditions or grant new conditions.
Although Mr Maina is charged with 12-counts bordering on money laundering, he, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
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: Call Willie - +2348098788999