Amidst fear of a setback, the EFCC has urged the chief judge of the Federal High Court, John Tsoho, not to reassign Abdulrasheed Maina’s case to a new judge.
The EFCC also called on Mr Tsoho not to transfer the trial of his son, Mr Faisal, and few other cases to a new judge.
Until his transfer to the Warri division of FHC, Okon Abang was the presiding judge over Mr Maina and his son’s trials.
Mr Tsoho had, in a March 16 circular, ordered a mass transfer of judges in the 36 divisions of the court and directed the newly posted judges to assume duty in their newly reassigned places on April 12.
While D.U. Okonkwo took over from Mr Abang, Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, transferred to Enugu, was replaced by Zainab Abubakar. Similarly, Ijeoma Ojukwu, now in the Calabar division, was replaced by Bolaji Olajuwon.
But no sooner than the judges’ transfer was done, the judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) went on a 64-day strike to demand financial autonomy for the judiciary.
JUSUN, which began its nationwide strike on April 6, suspended it on June 9.
However, the development hindered court proceedings in the country, forcing the EFCC to apply to Justice Tsoho for a fiat to allow Justice Abang to conclude some of the cases it started, including Maina’s matter.
It is a common practice that whenever a judge is transferred before delivering judgment in a case he or she handles, the case will have to start afresh if another judge takes over.
However, such a case can continue if parties in the suit apply for the fiat to allow the presiding judge to conclude the matter irrespective of his or her new posting.
The judge is then bound to come from his current division to hear the case.
A competent source at the EFCC stated, “He (Maina) has been arraigned. We have called all our witnesses, and the defendant (Maina) has opened his defence.
“So it will only be proper for the presiding judge to conclude the trial to guard against delay in justice.”
Controversies and dramas have trailed Mr Maina’s trial.
Mr Maina, arraigned before Mr Abang on October 25, 2019, by the EFCC alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, pleaded not guilty to the 12-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.