The counsel to Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Joe Gazama, has filed an application to withdraw his appearance from the ongoing trial.
This development occurred at the commencement of proceedings on Thursday. The counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammed Abubakar, drew the attention of the court to a pending application filed by the first defendant’s counsel, seeking to withdraw legal representation for his client.
However, Okon Abang, judge of a federal high court, stated that the defence counsel ought to be in court to move his application, as his action amounted to abandonment.
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“It is their duty to come to court and move their application,” he said.
“The court only said that trial will continue in absence of the defendant. There is no appeal against that decision but he counsel chose to abandon proceedings.”
In addition, the counsel representing Maina’s company, Common Input Investment Limited, Adeola Adedipe, withdrew from the case on the grounds that he is yet to be paid for his services and is unable to locate Maina.
“I adopt my notice of disengagement as counsel to the second defendant,” Adedipe said.
Delivering a bench ruling, the judge said: “Leave is hereby granted.”
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Maina is facing charges by the EFCC for alleged money laundering to the tune of N2 billion. The former PRTT chairman had jumped bail, and this prompted the judge to order the arrest of Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south, who stood as Maina’s surety.
After about four days in custody, the court granted the legislator bail on November 27.
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However, Abang had said that although other grounds of Ndume’s bail application failed, the senator has a record of “good behaviour”.
It will be recalled that Maina was arrested in Niger Republic on Monday, and the police is making efforts to extradite him.