An officer of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Kuje, on Friday, told a Federal High Court in Abuja presided by Justice Okon Abang that Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, was not produced in court because he was having problems with his two knees.
Justice Abang had asked the officer why Maina was not produced in court. The judge directed the court registrar to pass a paper to the prison officer who did not mention his name to write it down.
The prison officer said that although he was not present in the courtroom, Maina was in a car outside the court premises.
“My lord, the defendant is in the car outside. He has problem with both knees,” he said.
Abang then directed the registrar to tell him if he [Maina] received the hearing notice for the sitting, warning that court sits at 9am.
“Registrar, tell him that the sitting is in the court, not outside the court” the judge added.
Responding, the officer said, “We saw the hearing notice that we should produce him in courtroom and not outside the court.”
Justice Abang then recorded that Maina was absent for the proceeding. Earlier, Maina’s Counsel, Abel Adaji, had prayed the court for a short adjournment on claims that he was not served with the hearing notice in time.
“We were just served the hearing notice today. Our witness is not even within jurisdiction, we are humbly appealing for a very short date,” he had said.
The judge then questioned Adaji on how he got to know about the matter.
“My lord, my learned brother, Anayo Adibe (who is also Maina’s lawyer) informed me this morning that the matter is slated for continuation of hearing this morning. And I did not ask how he got the information,” he told the court.
On June 17, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had urged the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho, not to reassign some cases, including Maina’s suit, to another judge.
The anti-graft commission was reported to have applied to Justice Tsoho for approval to allow Justice Abang, the presiding judge in these cases, to conclude the matters.
The development followed the transfer of Abang to Warri division of the court in a March 16 circular signed by Tsoho. Justice Abang was replaced by Justice D.U. Okorowo at the Abuja division.
Maina is standing trial on alleged money laundering to the tune of N2.1bn.