The Federal High Court in Abuja has foreclosed the right of the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina to file a no-case submission in the N2 billion fraud case preferred against him by the Federal Government.
Maina had through his counsel, Anayo Adibe, informed the court of his intention to file a no-case submission in the 12-count fraud charge slammed against him by the Federal Government.
According to him, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to link him with the alleged offences to warrant him to open defence in the matter.
Maina’s counsel had applied to the court for the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the records of proceedings from the day his client was arraigned to enable him to prepare for the no-case submission he intends to file on behalf of his client.
When the matter was called on Monday, the prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar asked the court to foreclose Maina’s right to file his no-case submissions.
After taking submissions of counsel, Justice Okon Abang agreed with the prosecution that Maina has lost the opportunity given to him to file his no-case submission.
According to the judge, the order for the day to day trial in the matter is still pending as it has not been set aside, adding that, “It is my view that the non-availability of records of proceedings in the matter cannot stay proceedings. It is the duty of the new counsel to collect the case file from the former counsel.
“The court cannot be drafted into the internal issues of the first defendant. The fact that you applied for CTC of records of proceedings and you were not given cannot stay proceedings,” he said.
The judge recalled that Maina jumped bail on his own and that the court cannot stay proceedings because of his misconduct.
The court had earlier ordered that the matter to be heard in the absence of the first defendant but was adjourned four times at the instance of the first defendant.
“The application of the prosecution is granted. The right of the first defendant to file his no-case submission is hereby foreclosed”, Justice Abang held.
Following the ruling of the court foreclosing the right of filing a no-case submission, Adibe asked the court for time for the first defendant to assemble his witnesses for his defence.
Adibe, who said the first defendant will be calling 24 witnesses to prove his innocence applied for the recall of the PW1 to PW8.
But, the judge said: recalling witnesses that have been called, given evidence and cross-examined is like a camel passing through the eye of a needle.
“There must be a convincing evidence for the court to grant such application,” he said.
Adibe reminded the court of the health status of his client and applied that he should be given adequate medical attention by the prison authorities
“I am begging the court on compassionate ground for an order directing the prison authorities to give the first defendant adequate medical attention,” he said.
The court adjourned till January 26 and 27, 2021 for Maina to open his defence.
Maina, along with his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, is being prosecuted by the EFCC on money laundering charges involving the sum of N2 billion of pensioners’ fund.