Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Okon Abang on Thursday adjourned to Friday to deliver his ruling in the bail application filed by Senator Ali Ndume, currently in custody at the Kuje Correctional Center over his suretyship for former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, who apparently has jumped bail.
Justice Abang took the decision after taking arguments for and against the bail application filed and argued on behalf of Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District at the National Assembly, by his lawyer, Marcel Oru.
Abang had, in a ruling Monday, ordered the remand of Ndume following his inability to produce Maina in court to continue his trial in an alleged money laundering case.
The judge had held that Ndume will remain in custody pending when he redeems the N500 million bail bond he signed for Maina, who last appeared in court in September for his trial.
Arguing the bail application, Oru urged the court to grant Ndume bail pending the determination of his appeal at the Court of Appeal against the forfeiture of Maina’s bail bond.
He said although he filed an appeal, he has not compiled the record and the appeal has not being entered, therefore the trial court judge has jurisdiction to entertain the bail application.
Oru said that he elected to approach the trial court because it would be faster to dispense with the bail application, than to wait at the Appeal Court where it would take about six months to determine, adding that to wait for a period of six months would amount to the applicant inadvertently serving the punishment prescribed by law for an offence he has not being convicted for.
He pleaded with the court to have sympathy for Ndume who has spent four days in custody over the “despicable conduct of Maina”.
Further condemning the conduct of Maina, the counsel told the court that with the ruling “only God knows from the lesson learned whether a Nigerian with a good heart will ever stand surety for anyone anymore”.
The counsel further urged the court to consider his application within the peculiar circumstances in which Ndume was sent to prison and exercise discretion to grant the application.
The lawyer noted “that throughout proceeding of Maina, Ndume has attended court despite his busy schedule as senator. Ndume also signed the register kept by the registrar of court as directed”.
Secondly, Oru informed the court that he has raised serious issues of law in the appeal he filed, adding that though it is not appropriate to demonstrate them, a highlight of it would suffice.
According to the lawyer, “The only order the court can issue is to order the forfeiture of landed property as deposed to in the applicant’s affidavit in respect of the property whose title deed is in custody of the court.”
He also contended that Ndume was sent to prison without trial as he ought to have been given opportunities to call witnesses, give evidences and if found guilty, make plea for mercy.
The lawyer also urged the court to consider the fact that Ndume is a serving member of the Senate, and Chairman of Senate Committee on Army that is overseeing the activities of the army who is fighting terrorism and internal security challenges in 33 states of the federation.
Ndume is also a member of three other critical committees of Senate on health, establishment and Public service and special duties, he submitted.
Responding, the prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, who opposed the bail application, urged the court to hold that the applicant did not contradict the counter affidavit opposing the bail application.
Abubakar also claimed that it would amount to the court sitting on appeal over its own decision if it grants the application.
Justice Abang subsequently adjourned ruling in the bail application to Friday.