Afam Osigwe, counsel to Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, says his client cannot fulfill the conditions of the bail granted to him by a federal high court in Abuja.
Maina, who is standing trial on a 12-count charge bordering money laundering, was first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on October 25.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and Okon Abang, the presiding judge, granted him a N1 billion bail one month later.
As part of the bail conditions, the judge ordered Maina to provide sureties with properties worth N500m naira each. He said the sureties must have landed properties fully developed in Asokoro or Maitama in Abuja and they must be serving senators with no criminal case in court.
Abang also ordered that one of the sureties must be present in court at every date fixed for trial.
Maina was also ordered to deposit all his travel passports, including American, Nigerian and diplomatic passports.
At the resumed trial on Monday, Osigwe brought an application pursuant to section 181 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, seeking a bail variation for the former PRTT chairman.
He said although two senators have indicated interest to stand as sureties “they have stated that they neither have properties in either Asokoro or Maitama worth the amount specified by the court”.
When asked if he obtained documents containing the information of landowners in Abuja from the land registry, Osigwe said no.
“The land registry treats such documents as confidential,” he said.
He added that “to even conduct a search on an identified property, the Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS), would not permit you to do so unless you produce the original titled document together with a letter of consent.
“When you approach a person to be your surety and the person says I don’t have this property, I think it would be disrespectful to go behind investigating whether what the person has told you is true.”
However, the judge held that the defendant ought to have attached documents to prove that the claim potential sureties.
“The court did not fix those conditions for fun. The court has reasons for imposing those conditions. So, if you want the court to vary it, convincingly, you have to establish the fact that the applicant is unable to comply with those conditions,” he said.
Abang also added that the defendant failed to challenge the prosecution’s claim that he (Maina) no longer resides in Abuja and might runaway of released on bail.
But Osigwe argued that all Maina’s travel passports had been seized by EFCC and deposited before a high court in Gwagwalada, Abuja.
The judge adjourned the case till Tuesday to continue hearing of the bail application.