By Kunle Olasanmi |
The lawyer representing the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, in his ongoing trial, Mr. Sani Katu, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, has applied to withdraw his appearance as the defence counsel.
Maina, who is answering to a 12-count money laundering charge which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed against him and his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, had since opened his defence to the charge.
When the case came up yesterday, Mr Katu, who has been leading the defence team, notified the trial court of his decision to pull out from the case.
Immediately the matter was called, the senior lawyer, made his application.
He said: “My lord, the matter is adjourned for continuation of hearing and for us to bring another witness today. But, before then, we have an application we are compelled to make.
“The application is to seek leave of this Court to withdraw from this matter. In doing this, we appreciate the court’s indulgence.”
However, the Prosecution counsel, Mr. Farouk Abdullah, opposed the withdrawal application and urged the court to compel Maina and his defence team to proceed with the business of the day.
Abdullah contended that Maina’s lawyer, failed to fulfill the statutory condition precedent that would have paved way for him to withdraw from the trial.
“My lord, as rightly stated, this matter is slated today for continuation of defence. While we concede that a Defendant has the constitutional right to a counsel of his choice, and a counsel in the matter can also withdraw at any time he deems fit.
“However, our only reservation is the non-compliance to section 349(8) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
“In view of the non-compliance of senior counsel to the provision of the extant law on withdrawal of counsel, we pray the court to refuse the application and direct that the business of the day be done”, Abdullah submitted.
Before now, Chief J. K. Gadzama, SAN, Mr. Adeola Adedipe, from the law firm of Ahmed Raji and Co. also withdrew their further appearances in the matter.