The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, ordered the remand of the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, Abulrasheed Maina, in prison custody, till the conclusion of his trial.
The former pension reform boss is being tried in a 12-count money laundering charge brought against him and his company, Common Input Properties and Investment Limited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
His remand came barely 24 hours after he was arrested at Niger Republic and extradited back to the country by the Interpol.
Maina fled the country after he jumped bail and had since September 29, refused to appear before the court for continuation of his trial.
Owing to his disappearance, the court, on November 18, issued a warrant for his arrest, even as it revoked his bail and ordered his trial in absentia.
Though the court initially remanded his surety, Senator Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South, in custody, he was later released on bail after he had spent five days in prison.
Meanwhile, following Maina’s arrest by the Interpol, the EFCC, on Friday, produced him in court.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, applied that he should be remanded in prison custody since the court had revoked his bail.
EFCC made the application shortly after the team of lawyers that earlier represented Maina, led by Chief Joe. K. Gadazama, SAN, secured the nod of the court to withdraw from the case.
A lawyer in the team, Mr. Francis Oronsaye, based the decision to withdraw from the matter on Maina’s conduct, which he said brought embarrassment to their chambers.
Meanwhile, a new lawyer, Mr. Adaji Abel, told the court that Maina briefed him on Friday to take over his defence.
Abel pleaded the court for a short adjournment to enable him to properly appraise the case-file.
The adjornment request was opposed by EFCC’s lawyer, who relied on section 349 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, and urged the court to allow the trial to allow the ninth witness, Mrs. Rouquayya lbrahim, to continue her Evidence-in-Chief.
However, in his ruling, trial Justice Okon Abang said he was inclined to accommodate Maina’s new lawyer, “in the overall interest of justice,” by granting him a short date.
The court however ordered the remand of the 1st defendant at Kuje Correctional Center.
“The Defendant is already on bench warrant having jumped bail and his bail having been revoked. So he shall be remanded in correctional center, pending the conclusion of the trial”, Justice Abang held.
The case was subsequently adjourned to December 8 for continuation of hearing.
EFCC alleged that Maina used a bank account that was operated by his firm and laundered funds to the tune of about N2billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.
It told the court that the Defendant 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.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.