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Again, court varies Maina’s bail, accepts Ndume as surety

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday accepted the Borno South senator, Ali Ndume, as surety for the bail granted the remanded former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is being prosecuted on money laundering charges.

This is contained in Monday’s ruling by Justice Okon Abang, granting a second variation of the conditions he attached to the bail granted Maina last year.

The judge had earlier in January, following an application by Maina, amended a part of the ruling, reducing the number of serving senators the defendant was required to produce as sureties from two to one.

Maina’s lawyer, Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), had said at the June 23, 2020 proceedings that Ndume, a serving senator, had agreed to be the defendant’s surety.

But the senior lawyer pleaded with the judge to further vary the bail conditions to allow the senator to tender the Power of Attorney for the proposed property to be used for the bail guarantee instead of the Certificate of Occupancy as stipulated in the bail conditions.

Recall that Maina, who hails from Borno State like Ndume, was granted bail by the court on November 26, 2019, but has remained in detention due to his inability to meet the conditions imposed by the court.

His team of lawyers later applied to the court for a review of the bail conditions.

Granting the request in his ruling delivered on January 28, 2020, Justice Abang reduced, among others, the bail sum from N1bn to N500m.

Still unable to meet the conditions, Maina later filed fresh application for further review of the condition that required him to produce one serving senator as surety.

The judge, however, in his ruling delivered on April 29, 2020, dismissed the application for the second review of the bail conditions.

Having found Ndume as his surety, he again approached the court with another application for the variation of the bail conditions to make the title document held by the senator acceptable by the court.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, at the hearing of the application on June 23, opposed it.

Ruling on the application on Monday, Justice Abang held that he was inclined to varying the bail conditions on compassionate grounds, especially as the defendant was able to produce a serving senator as his surety.

The judge expressed displeasure about the earlier description of the bail conditions by Gadzama as suffocating.

The judge adjourned the matter till July 2 for continuation of trial.

The EFCC had last year instituted 12 counts of money laundering against Maina along with a firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited, which he was accused of using to launder about N2bn in pension funds.

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NIGERIA

WASSCE: Order partial reopening of schools, Reps tell Buhari

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The House of Representatives has called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to order a partial reopening of schools to allow pupils sit for the 2020 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination.

The House made the call at the plenary on Tuesday following a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by a member, Nnolim Nnaji.

The Committee on Basic Education and Services had earlier on Friday faulted the decision by the Federal Government to suspend the plan to partially reopen schools for pupils in final classes to take external examinations.

The committee had particularly criticized the decision to disallow Nigerian pupils from sitting for WASSCE to be conducted by the West African Examination Council for the 2019/2020 academic session.

Schools at all levels have been shut since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had earlier in June said the Federal Government, in what it called “safe reopening of schools,” had approved the resumption of pupils in graduating classes, including Primary 6, Junior Secondary School 3 and the Senior Secondary School 3.

In approving the resumption of graduating classes, the government said water must be provided in schools for hand-washing and both pupils and teachers must wear face masks while observing social distancing.

Later, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, had during the press briefing by the PTF announced that the 2020 WASSCE would hold between August 4 and September 5.

But the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President last Wednesday said all federal schools would remain closed until it was safe to reopen them.

Adamu also urged state governments that had announced schools’ resumption plans to rescind such.

The minister stated that WAEC could not determine the resumption date of schools for Nigeria. He alleged that the council announced the date of examination while the government was still consulting stakeholders on what to do.

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NIGERIA

Court remands carpenter for allegedly robbing a magistrate

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A carpenter, Alour Hanze, who allegedly robbed a Magistrate in Benue State, was on Tuesday, remanded in a correctional center on the orders of the court, pending legal advice.

The police charged Hanze, who resides in Akaajime area, Gboko Local Government Area,  Benue State with criminal conspiracy and armed robbery.

Magistrate, Ajuma Igama, did not take the plea of Hanze for want of jurisdiction.

She adjourned the case until Aug 26, for further mention.

Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel, Sgt. Ato Godwin told the court that the case was reported at Operation Zenda Camp, Gboko by Utile Dennis of Chief Magistrates’ court 1 Katsina-Ala Benue, on June 24.

Ato alleged Hanze, accompanied by two others invaded his residence situated at No. 148 St. Paul street, Gboko East and robbed him and his family.

He alleged that Hanze stole an Infinix cell phone valued at N30,000, one Techno phone valued at N26,000 at gunpoint.

During the police investigation, he said, Hanze voluntarily confessed to committing the crime alongside one Oryina, aka Zendagy and Luper aka Gadafi, now at large.

The prosecution said an investigation into the matter was still ongoing and prayed the court for an adjournment.

He said the offence contravened the provisions of sections 6(b) and 1(1)(2)(a) of the robbery and firearms special prohibition Act 2004.

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NIGERIA

Supreme Court dismisses Timi Alaibe’s suit against Bayelsa gov, Diri

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal filed by a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in Bayelsa State, Timi Alaibe, challenging the emergence of Governor Duoye Diri as the party’s candidate in the last year’s election.

A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour dismissed the appeal.

Alaibe’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, withdrew the appeal after the panel members pointed his attention to the fact that the issues raised in the appeal were not about the primary election but about an internal affair of the party.

Alaibe, who had lost the suit at both the Federal High Court in Owerri and the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal, had in the suit challenged the participation of two delegates who voted in the primary that produced Diri as the party’s candidate.

In the preliminary inquiry preceding the hearing on Tuesday, the Justice Rhodes-Vivour panel informed Adedipe that his case could not be categorized as a pre-election case that a court could entertain but about an internal affair of the party which the court lacked jurisdiction to hear.

Adedipe then withdrew the suit and was struck out by the court.

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