Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrashhed Maina, was on Thursday wheeled back to the Kuje Correctional Centre after a Federal High Court failed to deliver ruling on his application for bail.
Maina appeared at the Abuja division of the court on a wheelchair for a ruling which presiding judge Justice Okon Abang said was not ready due to his tight schedule.
Justice Abang however said a new date for the ruling will be given at the end of the court session.
The judge explained that he did not order Maina to appear in court in a wheelchair, saying he was deeply touched by his condition.
He went on to caution court reporters to always balance their reports on the proceedings in court so as to a avoid misrepresentation of facts.
He particularly frowned at media reports on the proceedings of October 25 and 30, complaining that it was misrepresented.
“I hereby say that there were misrepresentation of the proceedings in some print and electronic media. This is not fair to this court as a person and as a superior court. They are not allowing national interest to guide them,” Judge Abang said.
“The court is not against the press covering proceedings in court but their conscience will judge them. On October 25, the press did not report that I asked Maina to sit down in the dock. They also did not report when I permitted him to take his medication in the dock.
“On October 30, Ahmed Raji, SAN, walked out of the court, an act that is a misconduct, the press did not report that aspect. Also, the lead defence counsel, Joe Kyari-Gadzama, SAN, who I have tremendous respect for, threatened the court, but it was not also reported.
“On October 25, I did not directly warn the 1st defendant not to look at the court, I directed the registrar to tell the 1st defendant to stop looking at the court. I even rebuked the registrar when he misrepresented my directive.
“I have no problem with the 1st defendant (Maina). I have never met him until on October 25 when he was arraigned in my court.”
Commenting on Thursday proceedings, Justice Abang said he did not order Maina to come to court in a wheelchair.
“I noticed that the 1st defendant came to court on a wheelchair. I did not order him to appear in court on a wheelchair,” he stated.
“When I saw him this morning, I was deeply touched and I would have on my own adjourned the matter.”
Meanwhile, the court ruled that since parties have agreed, the matter will be adjourned at their instance to November 21 and 22.
Although the matter was adjourned to Thursday for ruling on Maina’s bail application and for continuation of trial, it was subsequently adjourned to enable the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) to examine his health status.
In a letter addressed to the prosecution counsel, Muhammed Abubakar, the Deputy Conmptroller General, in charge of Health and Social Services, H B Kori, requested for a grace of one week to enable them re-examine Maina’s health status.
The court had earlier directed the NCS to carry out a re-examination on Maina to ascertain whether he was fit to stand trial.
But in a letter signed by H B Kori, the NCS explained that it received the enrolled order of the court on November 6 by 3:35 pm; it was unable to comply with the order. It thereafter applied for additional time to comply with the order.
It was on account of this that the prosecution counsel sought for an adjournment to enable the NCS to access and certify the medical condition of Maina and his fitness to stand trial.
The application was not objected to by the defence team.
Maina was arraigned on October 25, y the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside a company, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, which was allegedly linked with him on a 12-count criminal charge bordering on corruption and money laundering.
Though Maina pleaded not guilty to all charges, trial judge Justice Okon Abang, however, ordered that he be remanded in the Kuje Correctional Centre pending the hearing and determination of his bail application.