Embattled Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, was yesterday extradited to Nigeria from Niger Republic to stand trial for money laundering. His extradition came on a day Joe Gazama, his counsel filed an application to withdraw his appearance from the ongoing criminal trial.
Maina was arrested in Niger Republic by International Police Organisation, Interpol, which worked with Nigeria security agencies, after he jumped bail. He was received by men of the Nigeria Police Force at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport yesterday. The aircraft carrying the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team landed at the airport at 2.15 pm. Maina is standing trial for alleged money laundering to the tune of two billion naira.
Speaking with journalists, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Interpol said Maina was brought back to Nigeria on the directive of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu. Maina had jumped bail, prompting the imprisonment of his surety, Senator Ali Ndume by the court for failing to produce him in court Ndume was, however granted bail after spending five days in prison. Meanwhile, his counsel, Joe Gazama, yesterday filed an application to withdraw his appearance from the ongoing criminal trial.
At the commencement of proceedings yesterday, Mohammed Abubakar, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, drew the court’s attention to a pending application before it, filed by the first defendant’s counsel seeking to withdraw legal representation for his client. However, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court said the defence counsel ought to be in court to move his application. Abang said the counsel has abandoned proceedings. “It is their duty to come to court and move their application. The court only said that trial will continue in absence of the defendant. There is no appeal against that decision but his counsel chose to abandon proceedings,’’ he said.
Similarly, Adeola Adedipe, counsel representing Maina’s company, Common Input Investment Limited, withdrew from the case on the grounds that he was yet to be paid for his services and was unable to locate Maina. “I adopt my notice of disengagement as counsel to the second defendant,” Adedipe said. Delivering a bench ruling, the judge said: “Leave is hereby granted.” Maina is being prosecuted by EFCC for alleged money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.
The former PRTT chairman jumped bail which prompted the judge to order the arrest of Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno South. Ndume had stood as surety for Maina so that he could be granted bail. After about four days in custody, the court granted the legislator bail on November 27. Abang had said though other grounds of Ndume’s bail application failed, the senator has a record of “good behaviour.’’