Senator Mohammed Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District, has indicated his intention to stand surety for the former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, being tried on money laundering charges.
Main, who was arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja last year and was granted bail, has been unable to meet the bail conditions, including the requirement that he reproduces a serving Senator as a surety.
Yesterday, his lawyer, Joe Gadzama (SAN) told the court, while arguing an application for further variation of bail conditions, that Ndume has agreed to stand surety for his client.
Gadzama said his client was yet to fully comply one condition, which accounts for why the defendant is seeking a further variation of the bail terms which the court had previously reviewed.
He said the condition related to the aspect where the court required the surety must provide a certificate of occupancy in relation to a landed property in Abuja.
Gadzama said: “In a desperate move to get freedom and liberty, we filed an application before the court of appeal in Abuja.
“Finally, Senator Ndume agreed to stand as a surety which made us withdrew the appeal by filing a notice of discontinuance.
“The applicant has met all the conditions but only one, which is that the surety must have a certificate of occupancy.
“The surety has submitted a certificate of occupancy of a landed property but it is not In his name. It is in the name of Lawal Ahmed. But the owner is Ndume who purchased it from Lawal Ahmed.
“In addition, there is a certified irrevocable power of attorney by Lawal to Ndume. It is as good as the certificate and supersedes the certificate because it is the latest in time.”
He added that in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) once a certificate of occupancy is issued in a person’s name by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), the name is not altered even when another person acquires the property.
Gadzama said: “The only way to show new power of ownership is by issuing irrevocable power of attorney.
“The court has granted bail earlier and the court would be joyful to see the applicant enjoy the bail.
“The only reason why he is still being incarcerated is that the court said it has to be a certificate of occupancy in the name of the surety. We ask my lord to temper justice with mercy.”
He equally informed the court that his client was sick, noting :“This gentleman (pointing to Maina) is very sick. He needs to see an ophthalmologist, because he cannot see well. He also needs orthopaedic surgery.
“It is in the interest of parties and the public whose funds is alleged to have been tampered with for him to live and face trial.
“I urge the court to once more, be magnanimous by further varying the one condition that he has been unable to meet.”
Responding, prosecution lawyer, Farouk Abdullah prayed the court to dismiss the defendants’s application for further variation of the bail conditions.
Abdullah argued that “a power of attorney does not convey title. In the case of the FCT, it is only the President that can allocate land to an individual.
“The Minister of the FCT exercises the power on behalf of the president. No individual who has enjoyed the power of allocation from the minister can a lot to himself the power to further allocate or transfer that land to another,” he said.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, after listening to arguments from lawyers, adjourned till June 29 for ruling.
Justice Abang fixed June 25 for the continuation of trial.
Main was arraigned on October 25, 2019 on a 12-count money laundering charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).