Court begins ex-pension boss Maina’s trial in absentia

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The Abuja on Tuesday commenced the trial of a former Chairman of the defunct Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, his absence.

Maina, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on N2bn money laundering charges, had last attended court on July 2, 2020, during the cross-examination of the sixth witness by his legal team.

He had however failed to attend subsequent proceedings since September 29, 2020, prompting the judge, Justice Okon Abang, to adjudge him as having jumped bail a ruling delivered on November 18, 2020.

The judge the November 18 ruling, revoked the bail earlier granted him, ordered his arrest, and directed his trial would proceed his absence.

On , the judge ordered the remand of Maina’ bail surety, Ali Ndume, until he is able to produce the fleeing defendant in court or the N500m bail bond to the .

Maina was again absent at the resumed hearing in the case on Tuesday.

There was also no lawyer to represent him or his company charged along him as his second defendant.

Following the request of the prosecuting counsel, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, the judge closed the right of Maina to continue cross-examining the sixth .

He also foreclosed the second defendant’ right to cross-examine the witness.

The seventh prosecuting witness, Ali Sani, also testified, defendants and lawyers unavailable to cross-examine him.

The judge, who also closed the defendants’ right to cross-examine the witness, also admitted an exhibit tendered by the prosecuting without any objection.

Justice Abang held the defendants had the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses and oppose the admissibility of the exhibit tender but failed to take advantage of it.

“They have themselves to blame,” the judge repeated each time he had to take a decision closing or foreclosing the defendants’ rights in the course of the trial.

As of the time of filing this report on Thursday, the eighth witness had been invited to the witness box to testify.