The Senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, who stood as the surety for the embattled ex-chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina, has cried out over his inability to compel Mr Maina to appear before the court.
Recall that Mr Maina is standing trial before the Federal High Court over alleged pension fraud.
On October 2, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang had ordered Mr Ndume to produce Mr Maina on the next date, today, failing which he could be penalized.
At the mention of the case on Monday, lead prosecution lawyer, Farouk Abdullah noted that Mr Maina was absent.
Mr Abdullah sought the court’s permission to apply that the court revokes the bail granted Maina, orders Ndume to pay the N500 bail bond which he signed, and to allow the prosecution to continue trial in Maina’s absence as allowed under Section 352(4) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
When asked about his client’s whereabouts, Mr Oronsaye said: “The information we have is that the defendant is admitted in hospital after the surgery.
“He (Maina) said he was undergoing treatment after the surgery and the location was not disclosed.”
Mr Oronsaye urged the court to discountenance Abdullah’s suggestions and added: “My lord, the liberty of the defendant is an issue and we submit that utmost care ought to be taken before such liberty is tampered with, especially as the law still presumes him innocent.”
When the judge asked Mr Ndume about Mr Maina’s whereabouts, the Senator said: “My lord, I understand that the defendant is in Abuja and I did all I can to locate him without any definite result. My lord, I am constrained because I can’t take the law into my own hands.
“I had reported to the DG SSS, the AIG of Police Investigation. I even wrote to the Police Commissioner and I also reported the case to DPO of Jabi where the defendant resides.
“But my lord, even if I see Maina today, I can’t force him to come to court. I am appealing to you to issue a warrant on him.”
When the judge told him that issuing a warrant of arrest would mean Mr Ndume would first be remanded going by the law, the Senator said: “I don’t mind my lord. My concern is to have him in court so that I can continue my life.”
“As a senator serving him (Maina), his family, wife, mother and uncle appealed to me to stand as a surety.
“I went to prison to confirm for myself whether he was actually sick and the prison officers told me that he was actually sick and appealed to me to be his surety so that he could have access to medical attention.
“Orji Kalu (ex-governor of Abia State), when he was in prison then, Joshua Dariye (ex-Plateau State governor) and former Governor of Taraba, Rev. Jolly Nyame, all appealed to me in the prison to assist him.
“It took me eight months, my lord, to take that decision. In fact, I have to be given an indemnity by his uncle; signed by me, him and a lawyer that Maina would always be in court.
“He guaranteed, but since that day, I went to Maitama Hospital to check their record, I went to Abuja Clinic, I went to the house he is purported to be living in Jabi, Abuja.
“This is one of the professional hazards we have to face as lawmakers representing the good, the bad and the ugly. If I was not a serving Senator, I wouldn’t have cause to stand as surety,” he said.
Mr Ndume said Mr Maina, who claimed to be ill, had recently released a video clip which went viral on social media about his state of health, but he was nowhere to be found.
He added: “I am helpless before you my lord. I appeal that such innocent citizens like me holding a public office for over one million people should not be subjected to this,” he said.
Justice Abang, thereafter, gave Mr Ndume 21 days’ grace to produce Mr Maina in court.