Nigeria: Kuje Prison Restricts Access to Ndume As Senators Visit

25 November 2020

Officials of the Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja, on Tuesday restricted access to Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), who was remanded on Monday over his inability to produce the former chairman of the Presidential Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, whom he stood as surety for.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had ordered Ndume to be remanded after the accused severally failed to appear in his trial over alleged N2bn pension funds fraud.

It was gathered that some serving and former lawmakers were at the prison to see Ndume on Tuesday. One of our correspondent, who was there sighted two serving senators.

Senator Ishaku Elisha Abbo (PDP, Adamawa) was heard telling Senator Bala Ibn Na'Allah (APC, Kebbi) at the vicinity of the prison that the officials of the correctional centre required approval of their controller to allow access to Ndume.

Abbo, our correspondent gathered, left without seeing Ndume. It would be recalled that Abbo nominated Ndume for the Senate Presidency in June 2019 when the ninth assembly was being inaugurated.

After the interaction with Abbo, Senator Na'Allah was allowed into the facility. He was seen entering the office of the officer in charge of the prison, G. U. Ochepa, after he was subjected to all COVID-19 safety protocols.

Ochepa was heard telling the lawmaker: "There is a temporary suspension of visit to the facility because of COVID-19. It is not a punishment to the lawmaker. Only lawyers and his wives are supposed to be allowed to see him."

After about 20 minutes in Ochepa's office, the lawmaker left the facility. Speaking to our correspondent, Na'Allah expressed shock over Ndume's remand.

"In all my years of practice, as a lawyer this is the first time I'm seeing this kind of situation. What I know is that if the surety is unable to produce the suspect, the person will forfeit the bail bond.

"The bail bond is a very clear court document and there is nowhere it suggest even by implication that you can substitute a surety for accused person," he said.

Court summons reps member over Maina's son

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday summoned a member of the House of Representatives, Sani Dan-Galadima, to appear over the trial of Maina's son Faisal.

Justice Okon Abang said Dan-Galadima ((APC, Kaura Namoda, Zamfara State) must appear today (wednesday) or a warrant of arrest be issued against him.

The judge further granted an application by the EFCC to issue a bench warrant against Maina's son and to try him in absentia under the provisions of sections 184 of the Administration Criminal Justice Administration and 354(2) of the same Act.

The judge ruled that in order to comply with the principle of fair hearing contained in Section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, the lawmaker was being summoned to show cause why he should not be ordered to forfeit the bail bond.

The judge also issued a bench warrant against Faisal Abdulrasheed Maina, and directed all security agencies to enforce the order.

Earlier, the EFCC had asked the court to order Galadima, who stood as a surety for Faisal, to appear and show cause or forfeit the sum of N60m in bail bond to the Federal Government.

Faisal was arraigned alongside his father on October 25, 2019 on separate three-count charges bordering on money laundering and concealment of proceeds of unlawful act.

He was alleged to have between October 2013 and June 2019 opened an anonymous account with the UBA as Alhaji Faisal Abdullahi Farma II while concealing his true identity.

The court had on Monday jailed Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), who stood as surety for Maina following the ex-pension boss's absence from court on a bail bond of N500m.

But on Tuesday, Maina's lawyer, Marcel Oru filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja challenging the remand order of the court on the grounds of lack of fair hearing. The lawyer had also applied for the bail of the lawmaker which will be taken on Wednesday.

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