By Eric Ikhilae Abuja, Abuja
Faisal, the son of the former Chairman, defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, has reportedly escaped to the United States of America (U.S.A) after sneaking into Niger Republic through a Nigerian border.
A lawyer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammed Abubakar, confirmed the development yesterday at the resumed hearing in his money laundering trial before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Faisal, who is being tried before the same judge with his father, went underground, the same way Maina did after they were granted bail.
While Maina was re-arrested in Niger Republic and has since been ordered to be remanded in Kuje Prison in Abuja, his son had remained elusive until EFCC got intelligence that he had fled to the U.S, where he is believed to be a citizen.
Abubakar said from the information at the disposal of the EFCC, Faisal sneaked into the U.S.A through Niger Republic.
The lawyer faulted the claim by the defence lawyer, Anayo Adibe, that Faisal was being held by the police in Sokoto State.
“We have a bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant and his production before the court. We have been making serious efforts to implement the bench warrant.
“The defendant has absconded to the United States of American. The claim that he was arrested in Sokoto by the police was in the realm of a rumour.
“It is on record that the Nigerian and American passports of the defendant are in the custody of this court as part of the conditions for his bail.
“However, information at our disposal indicates that the defendant was able to sneak out of Nigeria to the Republic of Niger, from where he was able to proceed to the U.S.A,” he said.
Adibe countered Abubakar, saying his client was in the custody of the police in Sokoto State.
The defence lawyer contended that it was impossible for Faisal to travel to the U.S when his international passports were in the custody of the court.
“On the last adjourned date, I did inform the court that the defendant was taken into custody by men of the Nigeria Police Force.
“My lord, the following day, media reports as well as the statement by the police command in Sokoto confirmed this fact.”
“Subsequently after, the police have not been forthcoming with information, even when we demanded to see the defendant.
“Let me also say that the travel documents of the defendant are with the court. It is speculative for the prosecutor to state that the defendant was in the U.S.
“The defendant personally called me the day he was taken into custody. But now, every effort made to reach the defendant has proved abortive,” Adibe said.
The lawyer prayed the court to grant his application to enable the defendant open his defence and exercise his right to fair hearing.
Ruling, Justice Abang said he did not know who to believe about the information on the defendant’s whereabouts.
The judge adjourned till March 31 for ruling on the defendant’s application.
Source: The Nation