Maina Collapses in Court as Lawyer Sidetracks Defence of No-case Submission


Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

Former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, yesterday collapsed in court.

Following the incident, the presiding judge, Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had to adjourn till December 21 and 22, 2020 for hearing on Maina’s no case submission, filed on December 9 and due to be heard today.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Maina, alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd on a 12-count charge of operating fictitious bank accounts, corruption, and money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

An EFCC statement said prior to Maina’s collapse, his counsel, Anayo Adibe, had sued for adjournment on the basis that he was yet to be availed with the copies of the proceedings from the date of his client’s arraignment, having taken over as defence counsel on December 4.

“I was not in the matter when he was arraigned. In the circumstances we will be asking for a short adjournment to enable us to take the records of proceedings of this court and do what we need to do,” he said.

This was a trifle shocking, given that the defence lawyer sidetracked the business of the day, which was the defence of his client’s no case submission.

Prosecution counsel, Faruk Abdullah, who was surprised by the application for adjournment, wondered why the defence, which filed a “no case submission,” would seek for adjournment, rather than defend his application in line with the business of the day.

“How can a counsel tell the court in one breath that he intends to address the court on a “no-case” and on another breath says, he can’t proceed because he hasn’t studied the proceedings of the court.

“It is safe for this court to conclude that the application made by counsel to the defendant was made to stall the proceedings of this court. In the event that counsel is still unprepared to make his submissions, we urge the court to foreclose their right so that we can make progress in this matter,” Abdullah

Even with Maina’s collapse, prosecution counsel argued that the business of the day can go on since his medical team was available and citing Section 266 of ACJA, he said the defence’s “no case” argument can be taken even in the absence of the defendant.

However, he noted that “it is only the living that can stand trial.”

Though Justice Abang dismissed the application for adjournment on the grounds canvassed by the defence counsel, he nonetheless adjourned the matter to December 21 and 22, 2020, for hearing on the no-case application by the defendant, based on the defendant’s courtroom collapse.

“In the course of the registrar addressing the court, I noticed that the defendant fell down and was taken out from the courtroom by the officials of Correctional Centre. As at the time of delivering this bench ruling, the first defendant is not in the courtroom.

“It is the right of the first defendant to present an argument on his no case submission. I have ruled on this issue on October 8 and 9, 2020, refusing the application for adjournment. It is most unethical for Adibe to apply for adjournment on an issue that has been raised and decided by the court of law. Therefore an application for adjournment on this issue is thereby refused,” Abang said.