Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja Federal High Court on Monday overruled a plea by the embattled former chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, to reject documented evidence presented against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge said the defendant was not in a position to determine before the court which document was relevant to the case of the prosecution.
He averred that any document the prosecution decided to bring before the court to prove their case, provided it was admissible to the law, would be admitted in evidence.
NAN said Justice Abang held that whether the court would consider the document relevant to a case before it was entirely a different issue.
“It is a case of the prosecution and not the defendant. The defendants have not opened their defence. It is possible that at the close of the case of the prosecution, the defendants may or may not call evidence in the matter.
“Put differently, the defendants may decide to file a ‘no-case’ application at the close of the case of the prosecution. If the ‘no-case’ application succeeds, then the defendants may not call evidence in the matter. It is only when the ‘no-case’ application fails that the defendants may decide to call evidence in the matter.
“In a like manner, it is not for the prosecution to determine which document is relevant to the case of the defendant,” he said.
The judge said when a defendant decides to call evidence in a matter, any document that the defendant decides to bring to court to prove their innocence would be provided in evidence.
The first and second defendants are Maina and Common Input Property and Investment Limited.
EFCC Prosecutor, Mr. Farouk Abdullahi, presented five documents indicating the bank statement of accounts, account opening and certificate of identification belonging to Maina and four others as evidence.
The four others are: Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Services, Drew Investment and Construction Limited, Cluster Logistics and Nafisatu Aliyu.
After admitting the evidence, Justice Abang marked the five documents as Exhibit D1, Exhibit D2, Exhibit D3, Exhibit D4 and Exhibit D5.
The prosecution averred that because the matter was for continuation of trial, he was ready to present the third prosecution witness (PW3), Mr. Marvis Enabulele, a Compliance Officer at a financial institution.
Enabulele said he became a witness in the matter, following a request by the EFCC to provide information on certain accounts in 2019.
Enabulele acknowledged that the accounts information retrieved were that of Abdulrashid Maina, Cluster Logistics, Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Services, Nafisatu Aliyu and Trew Investment and Construction Limited.
“We got the information from the archives and data base system of the bank.
“After printing, we also compared what we printed to what was on the bank’s system for accuracy,” he said.
Enabulele identified copies of the documents, while Abdullahi tendered the five sets of documents before the court and urged the court to admit and mark them as exhibits.
Maina’s lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Munguno, prayed the court to reject the documents.
“The documents are irrelevant, are of no use and not related to the charges before the court and do not reflect to the proof of evidence,” he said.
Counsel to the second defendant, Mr Adeola Adedipe, aligned with the submissions of Munguno.
But the prosecution insisted that the documents tendered were of paramount importance to the case.
“We want the court to see the proof of evidence, especially page 1,060, and you will find out that the documents were attached to the proof of evidence.
“The documents are relevant. It does not lie in the mouths of the defendant’s counsel to say they are not relevant.
“This is because this is a criminal trial on 12-count charge of money laundering through financial institutions.
“The documents have complied fully with the provision of the Evidence Act,” he said.
NAN also reports that Justice Abang informed the court that he was ready to hear the bail variation and continuation of trial.
He adjourned the matter till January 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17, 2020.
Justice Abang, on November 25, 2019, admitted the defendant to bail for N1 billion.
The judge ordered the accused to produce two sureties who must be serving senators.
He also ordered that the two sureties, who must be prepared for a N500 million bond each, must always be in court with the defendant at each adjourned date.
According to him, the two lawmakers must be free of any criminal trial in any court within the country.
The EFCC, on October 25, 2019, charged Maina alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, with a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering.