Court Prevents Lawyer From Withdrawing From Maina’s Case
A federal high court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday prevented a lawyer, Sani Katu (SAN) from withdrawing as one of the counsels to Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT).
The lawyer had approached the court in an oral application to withdraw from the case.
Recall that Maina alongside his firm – Common Input Property and Investment Limited – are answering a 12-count N2bn money laundering charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
At the resumed proceedings in the case on Wednesday, Katu notified the trial court of his decision to pull out from the case. Immediately the matter was called, the senior lawyer, made his application.
He said: “My lord, the matter is adjourned for continuation of hearing and for us to bring another witness today. But, before then, we have an application we are compelled to make.
“The application is to seek for leave of this Court to withdraw from this matter. In doing this, we appreciate the court’s indulgence”.
However, the Prosecution counsel, Mr. Farouk Abdullah, opposed the withdrawal application and urged the court to compel Maina and his defence team to proceed with the business of the day.
Abdullah contended that Maina’s lawyer failed to fulfill the statutory condition precedent that would have paved way for him to withdraw from the trial.
Responding, Katu asked the court for a short adjournment to enable him to file a formal application to withdraw from the trial.
“In as much as he has stated the law as it is, which requires that I notify the court in not less than three days before the date fixed for hearing.
“We have complied with the section, in that we appeared for the first Defendant yesterday, and in attempt not to spring surprises on the Prosecution, I specifically told the Prosecution, off record, of our desire to withdraw from this matter. Hence my inability to file a formal application.
“May I humbly apply for a short adjournment”, Katu added as earlier reported by Naija News.
However, ruling on the application, the presiding judge, Okon Abang, held that the senior advocate failed to comply with the provisions of the law, adding that the court can’t base its decision on what was discussed off record between the two lawyers.
He further accused Katu of bringing his application in bad faith.
“What is off record is not before the court and I cannot take countenance of what is not before the court.”
“M.S Katu has not offered any reason for seeking to withdraw from this matter,” Justice Abang held.
He added that: “His application to withdraw is to compound issues and to hold the court to ransom.
“In any event, from the record from the court, a notice has not been filed before the court.
“If a law requires that notice should be filed, it should be filed. It is not a sentimental issue but an issue of law which cannot be overlooked.
“The obvious lapses on his part cannot move the court to grant this application.
“The application to withdraw legal representation and cause confusion in the matter lacks merit and is accordingly refused.”
The court also refused an application for adjournment and ordered the defendant to produce his next witness.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa on Wednesday appeared before an Ikeja High Court to give evidence in an N1.4 billion fraud trial involving an oil company, Nadabo Energy.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Saidu Ateh before Justice C. A. Align, the EFCC boss analyzed the email correspondences of the defendant.
Bawa said the investigation revealed that the defendants, contrary to their claims took about 6 million litres PMS from the mother vessel to their chartered vessel.
He said the email further confirmed that the same quantity was discharged at Port-Harcourt.