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N2bn fraud: Senetor Ndume wants freedom as Maina’s surety

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The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Mohammed Ali Ndume, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to allow him withdraw from further acting as a surety to former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abulrasheed Maina.

Maina is facing trial before the court, following his arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged money laundering offences.

Ndume volunteered to act as Maina’s surety when the court granted him bail; Maina subsequently jumped bail, prompting the court to order Ndume’s remand in prison until Maina was rearrested in a neighbouring country.

At yesterday’s resumption of proceedings in the trial, Ndume’s lawyer, Marcel Oru, told the court about a pending application filed by his client on December 15, 2020.

“We are praying the court to discharge the applicant (Ndume) formally as a surety in the matter and for the documents of title that were deposited in court to be released to him, considering the fact that the first defendant, Abdulrasheed Maina, who jumped bail, has been rearrested and is in the custody of the complainant (EFCC),” he said.

When the judge, Justice Okon Abang, asked if there was a pending appeal on the case, Oru said there was an appeal, which did not relate to the substantive case.

On whether or not the court could hear his client’s application, despite the pending appeal, the lawyer said: “Ordinarily, if the appeal has been entered, this court, as presently constituted, will not have jurisdiction to entertain the application.

“But in the present circumstances, considering the intervening circumstances that the defendant (Maina) has been rearrested and is facing his trial before this court now, we are of the opinion that the court can hear the matter, subject to your lordship’s discretion.”

Lawyer to the prosecution, Mohammed Abubakar, objected to the hearing of Ndume’s application, contending that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear it because the matter was already before the Court of Appeal.

Abubakar added that he filed a notice of preliminary objection on December 18, 2020, and prayed the court to dismiss Ndume’s application for being incompetent.

Justice Abang adjourned till October 4 for further hearing.

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