BREAKING: Court Closes Maina’s Case, Says Ex-Pension Boss ‘Delaying Money Laundering Trial’
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, closed the defendant’s privilege to call witnesses in the money laundering trial of the embattled former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.
Recall that the court sitting presided over by a visiting judge, Okong Abang, stood down the case on Friday morning in line with the prayers of the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), M.S. Abubakar, who had urged the court to continue the case in Maina’s absence.
THE WHISTLER reported that counsel to the first and second defendants, Adaji Abel, prayed the court to adjourn the case because he was just served with the hearing notice on Friday.
On his part, a prison warder said Maina was not in the courtroom but was seated in a van of the Nigeria Correctional Service outside the court because he had knee problems.
But Abang recorded Maina absent, saying that the hearing notice issued to the correctional service was binding on them to produce him during the proceedings.
When the judge returned to the court, he asked the defendant’s counsel to call the second defence witness to continue his testimony.
Abel, however, told the judge that his witness was not in court and that he had no other witness present in court.
Objecting to what the defendant’s counsel had said, the EFCC’s lawyer urged the judge to erase the second defence witness’s previous confession from the court record.
He also prayed the court to close Maina’s defence and proceed to adoption of addresses, after which judgement would be delivered.
“My lord, since he said he has no other witness in court and without making any further application, I hereby urge the court to close the case of the defendants and adjourn the matter for adoption of final written addresses,” he added.
In his ruling, Abang expunged the testimony of the defendant’s second witness and held that Maina was attempting to prolong the proceedings by being absent.
He said that the court had been patient with the defendant even when he jumped bail.
While closing Maina’s defence, he directed the lawyers to file their written addresses in the case.
“The prosecution applied that the defendant case be closed since the defendant said he had no other witness in court.
“The defendant is not in court, no good reason was given for his absence.
“No application, no medical certificate to prove…how can you come to court and stay outside and assume the court will record your appearance?
“My lords, in my view, this is a delay tactics aimed at delaying this matter that was filed in 2019.
“I have no other option than to close the case of the first and second defendant…it is hereby closed.
“Parties shall file their final written address within 21 days; however, where the first and second defendant fail to file their final written address, the prosecution shall be at liberty to file their final written address.
“Where they serve each other within 21 days, the defendant shall file their reply on points of law.
“The suit is adjourned to 4 October for adoption of final written addresses,” he said.