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Alleged Money Laundering Charge: Maina Fit For Trial, Says Prison Doctor

AbdulRasheed Maina

A Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday admitted former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTM), Abdulrasheed Maina to bail in the sum of N1 billion with two serving senators as surety.

Maina is standing trial on 12 count charge bordering on alleged money laundering to the tune of over N2 billion preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Maina since his arraignment has been sick and could hardly attend his trial. Delivering ruling in his bail application, the trial judge Justice Okon Abang held that bail is at the discretion of the court and accordingly admitted Maina to bail in the sum of N1 billion.

Maina, in addition, is to provide two sureties, who must be serving senator with no criminal record or pending charges.

The senators who must show evidence of tax payment in the last three years must be owners of landed property in the Asokoro or Maitama area of Abuja.

The court also ordered Maina to deposit his international passport including his diplomatic passport of which must be confirmed by the Nigerian Immigration Service.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Comptroller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (Prisons) in charge of Welfare and Medical, on Monday told Justice Abang that Maina is medically fit to face trial.

The former pension reform boss after his arraignment on October 25, had claimed that he took ill and was unable to attend his trial.

His absence in court on November 13 forced the court to adjourn proceedings with an order on the Deputy Comptroller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (Prisons) in charge of Welfare and Medical to conduct a thorough examination on Maina, in other to ascertain his health status and report to the court.

At Monday’s trial, prosecution lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, informed the court that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on November 20, 2019, received a comprehensive report on Maina’s medical status from the Nigeria Prison Service.

Reading from the medical report signed by an Assistant Comptroller General (Medical), Dr Remi Ojo, the lawyer stated that Maina, 45 years has slight malaria and high blood pressure. The report stated that Maina was suffering from high blood pressure but it has been brought under control.

“Maina vital organs are working normal. He is fit to stand trial.” Maina was at the last proceedings brought to court in aid of two Prison Service officials.

The and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Maina, alongside a firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, allegedly linked with him on a 12-count criminal charge, bordering on fraud, abuse of public office and money laundering of about N2 billion.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN on Monday told officials of the Nigeria Prison Services that they have powers to refuse to keep in their custody persons awaiting trial, if relevant agencies of government failed to address the issues of such inmates within a period of three months.

Malami, who made the disclosure while declaring open the first “National Workshop on the Effective Implementation of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act”, said the move is aimed at tackling the issue of overcrowding in the prisons. Report has it that 70 per cent of inmates across correctional centres in the country are persons awaiting trial with some of them in detention for more than ten years.

The Correctional Service Act which according to the AGF, is a fall out of ongoing reform is aimed at decongesting prisons as well as equipping inmates for a better life after prison. “We consider the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 20l9 very critical to the administration of Criminal Justice in Nigeria for quite a number of reasons.

“In the first place, it is our much-awaited legislative wand for bringing to an end the hydro headed problems associated with overcrowding and prisons congestions in the Country.

“With this Act in place, we now have the much needed legislative backbone for the comprehensive implementation of the national policies and strategies for prisons decongestion in Nigeria and I cannot but give credit to Mr President for his demonstrable commitment towards the speedy decongestion of Nigerian prisons, now Correctional Centres”.

Among some of the innovations in the new Act, the Minister cited include section 18(2) which empowers prison officials to reject inmates suspected to have undergone torture or other inhumane treatment in the hands of relevant agencies.

“By virtue of section 18 (2) of the Act, upon the delivery of the notification under section 18 (I) (d), the State Controller shall cause to be activated, the procedure for refusal to admit awaiting trial persons to his custodial centre, where the heads of the relevant agencies notified fails to take necessary steps to address the situation within a reasonable time not exceeding three months.

“A Superintendent shall refuse to admit any person brought in with a severe bodily injury, mentally unstable or underage provided that the Superintendent shall ensure due documentation of the name, date and other particulars relating to the person that was refused admission”,

“Under the new dispensation, the Correctional Service is obliged to take adequate steps to ensure the prevention of torture, prevention of inhuman and degrading treatment against inmates and the prevention of sexual and non-sexual violence and bullying of inmates”, the Minister added.

Malami stated that the workshop is meant to sensitize and conscientise participating Justice Sector Institutions and other stakeholders on their roles towards the proper implementation of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.

He, therefore, called on the participants to come up with a road map that would facilitate the implementation of the Act, especially with regards to Non-Custodial Measures, adding that the country can only get the best out of the Act when it is duly implemented.

[PR Nigeria]

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