Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina has explained his continued absence in court for his trial to severe ill health.
Maina is standing trial before the Abuja division of the Federal High court over allegation of fraud, abuse of public office and money laundering amounting to N2billion.
The prosecution agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleged that Maina abused his position as Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team by awarding fictitious contracts for purported biometric enrollment of pensioners, an offense that is punishable under Section 317(read in conjunction with section 316) of the Penal Code Act, Cap532, vol. 4, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, 2007.
However, since the beginning of the new legal year, Maina, who is currently on bail, has not shown up in court for his trial.
The development has caused the criminal trial to suffer several adjournments.
But in a recorded video interview on Thursday, Maina explained that he has been bedridden.
“I am not on the run and have not jumped bail as being speculated by detractors. I am on a hospital bed, Maina said.
Although Maina did not disclose the name of the hospital where he is presently on admission, he assured his presence in court as soon as he is medically fit to stand trial.
“I am nursing a serious knee injury and the Doctor said I need up to 6 to 7 weeks of recovery to be on my feet.
“Interestingly, the trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang has equally not sat since October 5, due to some special circumstances.
His court registrar told counsel and litigants in the affected dates that Justice Abang “is indisposed and will not not be sitting”.
Recall that Maina’s kinsmen had noted with dismay how Justice Abang frowned at his absence in court despite the fact that their brother had tendered a medical report from Maitama District Hospital through his lawyer, showing that he has been critically ill.
In view of this development, the kinsmen through their spokesman, Aliyu Maina accused Justice Abang of being biased in his treatment of the suit filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They said “it is only a healthy person that can face his trial alive”.
“A careful observation of the proceedings so far clearly reveals that the trial judge has descended into the arena of conflict” Maina’s kinsmen alleged. END.
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