A Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected another plea by ex Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, for an adjournment of his suit.
Maina, through his counsel, Abel Adaji, had on December 4, prayed the court for a brief adjournment to allow for adequate information and preparation.
At the reconvening, lawyer to the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farouk Abdullah, told the court that the matter was to continue, based on the evidence of the ninth prosecution witness (PW9), Rouqquaya Ibrahim, who is an EFCC investigator in the suit.
Justice Okon Abang thus ruled that though the decision to grant the application for adjournment was a matter to be decided by the court, such a plea was a guise to waste the time of the competent court.
Objecting to the call for the continuation of the suit, Anayo Adibe, who represented Maina as counsel at the current sitting, stated that the legal team was just taking over the case and needed time for sufficient preparation.
“We apply to the registry of this honourable court for the record of proceedings as at the last date to be made available,” he said.
He further cited Section 349(3) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to defend his argument on the need for Maina to get reasonable time to seek any counsel of his choice, to which the opposition objected, stating a misplacement of application.
The EFCC’s lawyer further argued that Maina had been given all the required rights and representation up till the time of withdrawal of his counsel from the suit.
The lawyer further stated that though change of counsel was a constitutional right, such right should be granted only to the extent that it does not run against due course in the administration of justice.
He also argued that the provision of Section 349(3) was inconsistent with the current case because Maina had legal representation before now.
“On Friday (December 4), one lawyer withdrew and another lawyer came into the picture.
“It presupposes that Section 349(3) is inapplicable here,” he said.
Abdullah, who said that justice in this case, meant proceeding with the matter, insisted that he was ready to proceed.
In his ruling, Justice Abang pointed out that since the matter resumed on September 29, Maina had failed to appear in court until a bench warrant was issued against him and he was brought to court on December 4 by security operatives.
The judge said the issue of fair hearing was not applicable in the case because Maina was not new to the suit.
Justice Abang stated that Maina had skipped bail and there was no proper handover of the case file from the previous lawyer to the current one to indeed prove a hands off from the case.
The plea was thus rejected.