Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja has refused to grant the request of former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, to reopen his defence.
Maina, had in a motion on notice dated August 6, 2021, and brought pursuant to section 36(4) and 6 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, applied to the court for review of it’s decision on July 16, 2021, to foreclose his defence.
However, Farouk Abdullahi, the prosecution counsel opposed and urged court to dismiss the application for being an abuse of court process and a ploy to delay proceeding.
In a ruling on Friday, Justice Abang held that “The application of the 1st and 2nd defendant lacks merit, a reckless abuse of judicial process and thereby dismissed” accordingly.
The court stated that from it’s findings and record, the prosecution and defence counsel joined issues and where heard on the merit before a bench ruling on July 16, wherein the case of the defendant was closed.
Justice Abang held that the decision to close the case of the defendant was taken in the presence of all counsel after hearing them on the merit, insisting that the argument of Maina’s counsel, A. Abel that he was not served with hearing notice was “untrue and untanable” adding that the lawyer lied on oath.
More so, in dismissing Maina’s application, the court said Maina’s lawyer failed to secure leave of court to appeal the decision of the court on July 16, adding that, a decision of court not appealed, “still subsists”
“The decision of July 16, which closes the defendant’s defence was not appealed, and the defendant cannot come by way of interlocutory application to seek review of a decision not appealed.
Abang insisted that the court cannot sit on appeal over its ruling.
“The court as presently constituted is functus officio to entertain the application to review it’s decision.
“The defendant was offered the opportunity to be heard, he chose not to. They have themselves to blame” Justice Abang ruled.
The court took time to state all the days Maina absented from court as a result of jumping bail on September 20, which made the court to issue bench warrant against him and ordered his trial to continue in abstentia.
According to the court, upon the prayer of the prosecution, the court revoked Maina’s bail and consequently ordered trial in abstentia.
He fled the country but was later rearrested in Niger Republic by security operatives and was returned to Nigeria to continue his trial.
Maina was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on a 12-count charge on 25th October 2019, for allegedly stealing of pension funds, and money laundering allegation.
More so, the prosecution alleged that Maina committed criminal offences punishable under sections 11(2) (a), 15(3), and 16(2) (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, and also acted in breach of the Advance Fee Fraud Act.
It was also alleged that Maina abused his position as Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team by awarding fictitious contracts for purported biometric enrollment of pensioners, an offense that is punishable under Section 317(read in conjunction with section 316) of the Penal Code Act, Cap532, vol. 4, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, 2007.