By Kunle Olasanmi, Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, gave Senator Ali Ndume a 21 days ultimatum to produce the former chairman of
the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who has been absent from over 10 scheduled trial sessions since September 2020.
Justice Abang, after making the order said the senator could be detained should he fail to produce the defendant in court on November 18.
Both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Ndume separately urged the court to order Maina’s arrest. But the judge explained that he could not order Maina’s arrest without ordering the detention of his surety.
He said he was more inclined to give the senator three more weeks to
find and produce the defendant in court.
Although Maina was absent from yesterday’s proceedings, his supporters sustained a negative campaign against the judge by pasting posters accusing the judge of bias in the handling of the trial on walls of neighbouring buildings around the court premises.
Maina, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC on charges of money laundering involving N2bn has been absent from court since September 29, 2020, when his trial was scheduled to resume.
On October 2, 2020, Ndume who is currently the Senator representing
Borno South, the senatorial district Maina hails from, told Justice Abang that he could no longer find the defendant.
In response, the prosecuting counsel, Farouk Abdullah, told the judge
that Maina had jumped bail, saying the commission’s independent
investigation showed that the defendant was not in admission at the
hospital where he claimed to be receiving treatment.