Nigeria: EFCC Urges Court Not to Grant Maina Fresh Bail

20 January 2021

The anti-graft agency says Mr Maina's claim of ill health is false.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has objected to a fresh bail application filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja by the former Chairperson of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina.

Mr Maina had earlier evaded trial and fled to Niger Republic.

The defendant, who is being prosecuted on money laundering charges involving alleged diversion of N2billion in pension funds, was extradited to Nigeria on December 3, 2020, weeks after the trial judge, Okon Abang, ordered his arrest.

When Mr Maina was produced in court on December 4, Mr Abang ordered that he be kept in prison till the end of his trial.

The defence lawyer, Anayo Adibe, however, on Wednesday, informed the trial judge that it had filed a fresh bail application on behalf of the defendant whom he said was having "worsening health condition" in detention.

Mr Maina stated in an affidavit filed in support of his fresh bail application that he was absent during his trial in October 2020 because he had to undergo a medical operation on his knee.

But the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, opposed the bail application, saying Mr Maina's claim of ill health was false.

The EFCC said in a counter-affidavit opposing the fresh bail application that Mr Maina, whose passport had been seized by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, where he is being prosecuted on separate fraud charges, had jumped bail and sneaked to Niger Republic "to obtain new travel documents at the Embassy of the United States of America (USA) in Niamey to enable him flee back to the USA with his family where he and his family are equally citizens."

"The 1st defendant (Maina) did not suffer or undergo any treatment for any health challenge in his knee whether in Nigeria or in Niger Republic," the counter-affidavit added.

Complicated history

Mr Maina had evaded trial for years until the Nigerian security agencies arrested him in company with his 20-year-old son, Faisal, on September 30, 2019.

EFCC subsequently arraigned him before Mr Abang in October 2020.

His son, who has also jumped bail, is standing trial on separate charges before Mr Abang.

Mr Abang has since continued Faisal's trial in his absence.

Last year when Mr Maina jumped bail in the middle of his trial and fled to Niger, Mr Abang ordered the remand of his surety, Ali Ndume, a serving senator in detention.

Mr Ndume spent days in detention before the judge later granted him bail.

The senator had in a recent news reports said he would withdraw as Mr Maina's surety.

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