By Taiye Agbaje
Joe Gadzama, SAN, Counsel to the former Chairman, defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, on Tuesday prayed a Federal High Court, Abuja, to further vary the bail conditions given to his client.
Gadzama, in an application before Justice Okon Abang, said: ”before my lord is an application dated Feb. 10 and filed same date on conditions and terms of bail granted the 1st applicant (Maina) on Nov. 26 and varied on Jan. 28 graciously by the court.”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Abang had, on Jan. 28, varied Miana’s bail conditions, following his inability to meet the bail terms granted him on Nov. 26, 2019.
The EFCC had, on Oct. 25, charged Maina and his son, Faisal, before the court alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd.
Although Maina is facing a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering, he had, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
He said though the court has the discretion to grant this application or refuse it, he believed that the judge “exercises his discretion judiciously and judicially.
“This court has the power to further review the bail conditions earlier given.”
According to him, where bail is granted to a defendant and he cannot meet it because the bail is suffocating and difficult to meet, it can be likened to a poison meal that if he takes it, he dies and if he doesn’t take the food at all, he dies.
“The defendant (Maina) has come back humbly to say that he is thankful of the earlier granted bail, as well as the variation, but that the conditions cannot be met.
“No senator has agreed to stand as surety to be coming here and be signing on a daily basis.” he said.
He said contrary to the insinuation, Section 10 of the Interpretation Act (Laws of the Federation chapter 1, 2, 3) gives the court the power to vary bail conditions as many times as possible.
He also cited previous cases to back his argument.
The lawyer said the EFCC had not advanced any good ground for requesting the court not to grant Maina’s bail variation plea.
Gadzama, who told the court that Maina is innocent until proven contrary, said it was his constitutional right.
“We need facilities at his disposal to enable us put up defence for him.
“I visited him at the Kuje Correctional Centre but could not have access to him; how else can he defend himself before this court?” he asked.
He reminded the court that granting Maina’s bail did not mean permanent freedom, but to enable him have access to justice.
“Many people had walked freely before but now in detention.
“Since he has not been able to meet his bail terms, do we leave him in detention until the trial is completed?” he asked.
He urged the court to give a bail condition on a more liberal term.
However, Justice Abang said he gave the bail conditions, considered to be difficult, based on the weighty allegations levied against Maina by the anti-graft agency and that the applicant and his counsel failed to counter the allegations at the time.
“That he (Maina) no longer reside in Nigeria and that he sneaks in and out through Niger Republic border, among others,” he said.
Counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Abubakar, however, opposed the bail variation plea, urging the court to discountenance Gadzama’s argument.
After taking Maina’s trial on Tuesday, Justice Abang adjourned ruling on the application to further vary the bail conditions until April 9, while adjourning the trial continuation till March 18.
The judge also ordered Maina present one surety in like sum, who must be a Nigerian and a serving Senator, who must not be standing any criminal trial in court.
The judge in that ruling ordered said the Senator must have fully developed landed property in any of these areas: Kamtape, Central Business District, Wuse 2, Maitama and Asokoro.
Justice Abang added that the surety shall come to court with the defendant at all adjourned dates and shall sign the register open for him and go back to his business. (NAN)