Okon Abang, a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, explained why he signed the subpoenas requested by the chairperson of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina.
Mr Maina, who is being prosecuted before the court on N2billion money laundering charges, had applied to the court to issue separate subpoenas on over 10 individuals, including the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to testify in his defence.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that following Mr Maina’s requests, the judge, had summoned Mr Malami, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, a former chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),Ibrahim Magu, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and some others.
Although the subpoenas were signed by the judge on March 8, the summons ordered them to be in court on March 9 to 11.
Mr Falana, accompanied by Omoyele Sowore, Sahara Reporters publisher, appeared before the court on Thursday.
“I read in the newspapers that I was summoned to testify in the ongoing case.
“I have not been served with a copy of the subpoena but I came out of respect for the court,” Mr Falana said after the judge expressed surprise to see him at the proceedings.
It is doubtful if Mr Maina has served others with the subpoenas he obtained from the judge on Monday.
‘Subpoenas signed in obedience to Appeal Court judgment’
The judge told Mr Falana on Thursday that he would ordinarily not have endorsed the requests for the subpoenas if he had his way, especially because of the short notice.
“I signed it based on the Court of Appeal’s decision that compelled me to sign it in the matter of Olisa Metuh Vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
In the case referred to by the judge, he had refused to sign the subpoena as requested by Mr Metuh, a former spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party, to be issued on the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
But the Court of Appeal in Abuja later ordered the judge to sign the subpoenas as his refusal to sign it to enable the defendant to bring the desired witness to testify in court amounted to a breach of his right to fair hearing.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Maina’s first defence witness, Ngozika Ihuoma, had mentioned the names of the subpoenaed witnesses in the course of his testimony last week.
Mr Ihuoma claimed, for instance, that the AGF was aware that Mr Maina helped the Federal Government to recover huge sums of looted funds.
He also accused the EFCC of mismanaging 222 sets of property which Mr Maina-led PRTT allegedly recovered and handed over to the commission.
Although, Mr Ihuoma later claimed he had no document to back his claims, he alleged that one of the houses on Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja said to be worth N6billion was sold at an undervalued price of N1billion to Mr Falana.
Mr Falana denied the allegation, saying he had never bought any property from the EFCC.
Subpoenaed witnesses to appear March 17, 18
Mr Abang after explaining why he signed the subpoenas on Thursday, asked the court registrar to lead Mr Falana to the registry to get the original copy of his subpoena.
Meanwhile, Mr Maina’s second defence witness, Charles Emoakemeh, a retired Superintendent of Prison Officer, opened his testimony on Thursday.
Mr Emoakemeh was led in evidence by Mr Maina’s lawyer, Abel Adaji, who took over the defence after Sani Katu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, abandoned the defence team.
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