Wednesday , 28 September 2022

Maina’s son, Faisal escapes to U.S through Niger – EFCC

  • Defence lawyer insists he is held in Sokoto
  • Court orders forfeiture of surety’s N60m property in Abuja

The son of the ex-Chairman, defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, Faisal has escaped to the United States of America (USA), after sneaking into the Niger Republic through one of the nation’s porous borders.

A lawyer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammed Abubakar confirmed the development on Thursday at the resumed hearing in his money laundering trial before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Faisal, who us being tried before the same judge with his father, went underground, the same way Maina, did after they were granted bail.

While Maina was re-arrested in Niger Republic and has since been ordered to be remanded in Kuje prison, Abuja, his son had remained elusive until EFCC got intelligence that he has since fled to the US, where he is believed to be a citizen.

Abubakar told the court on Thursday that, from the information at the disposal of the EFC, Faisal sneaked to the USA through the Republic of Niger.

He faulted claim by defence lawyer, Anayo Adibe that Faisal was being held by either the police in Sokoto State.

“We have a bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant and his production before the court. We have been making serious efforts to implement the bench warrant.

“The defendant has absconded to the United States of American. The claim that he was arrested in Sokoto by the police was in the realm of a rumour.

“It is on record that the Nigerian and American passport of the defendant are in the custody of this court as part of the condition of his bail.“However, information at our disposal indicate that the defendant was able to sneak out of Nigeria to the Republic of Niger, from where he was able to proceed to the U.S.A,” Abubakar said.

Adibe countered Abubakar and stated that his client was in the country and in the custody of the police in Sokoto State.

The defence lawyer contended that it was impossible for Faisal to travel to the U.S when his international passports where in the custody of the court.

“On the last adjourned date, I did inform the court that the defendant was taken into custody by men of the Nigeria Police Force.

“My Lord, the following day, media reports as well as the press release by the police command in Sokoto confirmed this particular fact.

“Subsequently after, the police have not been forthcoming with information even when we demanded to see the defendant.

“Let me also say that the travelling documents of the defendant are with the court. It is speculative for the prosecutor to state that the defendant was in the U.S.

“The defendant personally called me the day he was taken into custody, but now every effort made to reach the defendant was proved abortive,” Adibe said.

He then prayed the court to grant his application, seeking the court’s permission to enable the defendant open his defence to enable him exercise his right to fair hearing.

Abubakar objected to Adibe’s prayer and urged the court to dismiss the application in view of the defendant’s continued absence in court.

He said: “Regarding fair hearing, a defendant shall be afforded an opportunity to be heard.

“But, where the defendant is afforded that opportunity and he failed or refused to take advantage of it, he cannot therefore turn around and take sanctuary under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution. The defendant was never denied fair hearing,” he said.

Ruling, Justice Abang said he did not know who to believe as it relates to information about the defendant’s whereabouts.

The judge said he would work with the facts before the court.

He then adjourned till March 31, 2021 for ruling of the defendant’s application.

In a ruling earlier, Justice Abang ordered among others, that a House of Representatives member, Sani Dan-Galadima (representing Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara), who stood surety for the fleeing Faisal, should forfeit his property, worth N60million, which he pledged as guarantee for the N60m bail bond he signed.

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