The former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, on Wednesday, February 24, implored a federal high court in Abuja to vacate an order made to continue his money laundering trial in absentia.
Ripples Nigeria had reported that Okon Abang, the judge, on November 18, 2020, ordered that Maina’s trial would continue in his absence after he jumped bail and refused to attend the trial.
The former PRTT chairman was later arrested in Niger Republic and extradited to Nigeria to continue his trial.
Furthermore, the court made an order remanding the defendant in prison pending the conclusion of the trial.
At the resumed court session on Wednesday, Anayo Adibe, Maina’s counsel, moved an application praying the court to set aside both orders made on November 18 and December 4 respectively.
Adibe said the order of the court regarding trial in absentia is “spent” and ought to have been set aside considering the fact that the defendant has been brought back to face trial.
However, Mohammed Abubakar, prosecution counsel, objected to the application.
According to Abubakar, setting aside the trial in absentia order is “tantamount to setting aside all the proceeding conducted by this court in the absence of the first defendant”.
“On December 10, 2020, the first defendant feigned illness and staged a drama before the court. In such circumstances, the order of the court made on 18 November, will still be useful so that the matter can proceed even in absence of the first defendant,” Abubakar said.
He asked the court to dismiss Maina’s application.
The judge has fixed February 25 to rule on this application and another application seeking to release Maina on bail.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Maina for alleged money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.