•Demands senator fulfills N500m bail bond obligation
Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, yesterday ordered the remand of Senator Ali Ndume at the Kuje Correctional Centre following his inability to produce a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, in court to answer to corruption charges.
Ndume, who represents Borno South and is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Army, stood surety for Maina in his alleged corruption trial initiated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Maina is standing trial for alleged money laundering charges to the tune of N2 billion.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail in the sum of N500 million and a surety in like sum, who must in addition attend sitting at every time the matter is called and also ensure that Maina unfailingly appears in court for his trial.
The surety in addition, must be a serving senator who owns property worth N500 million in Abuja.
However, Maina has since September failed to appear in court for trial, forcing the court to revoke his bail and ordered his arrest.
The court also last week adjourned till yesterday for the surety to give reasons why he should not be remanded to forfeit the bail bond he signed guaranteeing Maina’s presence in court throughout the trial.
However, at yesterday’s proceedings, Ndume was yet to file a formal application to show cause why he should not forfeit the bail bond of N500 million deposed to on May 5 to stand as surety for Maina.
He informed the court that he still does not know Maina’s whereabouts.
At last week proceedings, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, had asked the court to make an order for the lawmaker to forfeit the bail bond since it has become obvious that Maina had jumped bail.
In a short ruling, Justice Abang ordered that Ndume be remanded at the correctional centre, pending the time he is able to produce Maina in court or forfeit the bail bond of N500 million.
The court also empowered the federal government to sell Ndume’s property at Asokoro so as to recover the N500 million bail bond.
The judge added that Ndume shall be released from the correctional centre if he pays the N500 million to the federal government or if the prosecutor is able to dispose off the property and payment made to the federal government.
The trial in absentia of Maina has been fixed for today.
Ndume had earlier told the court that he could no longer find the defendant whom he had made a legal commitment to always produce in court for his trial.
The judge, following Maina’s repeated requests, had twice varied the bail conditions, reducing the bail sum from the original N1 billion to N500 million with only one surety as opposed to two originally requested by the court.
Ndume, who represents Borno South where Maina hails from, later agreed to serve as the defendant’s surety.
In line with terms and conditions of the bail, which the judge gave in January 2020, Ndume gave a legal commitment to accompany the defendant to court every trial date and provided the court with the title documents of his property worth N500 million in a choice area of Abuja as a guarantee.