Alex Enumah in Abuja
The trial of former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTM), Abdulrasheed Maina, was again stalled at the Federal High Court, Abuja, due to his worsening health condition.
Maina is standing trial on alleged money laundering charges to the tune of over N2 billion preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Though he pleaded not guilty to the charges, his trial has yet to make meaningful progress due to his failing health.
After his arraignment on October 25, the former pension reform boss had claimed that he took ill and was unable to attend his trial.
His absence in court on November 13 forced the court to adjourn proceedings to today, with an order on the Deputy Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (Prisons) in charge of Welfare and Medical to conduct a thorough examination on Maina in order to ascertain his health status and report back to the court.
When the matter came up yesterday, the prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, informed the court that the business of the day was to take response to the submissions of the first and second defendants’ objections to the admissibility of the document the prosecution wanted to tender in evidence.
However, Maina’s lawyer, Francis Oronsanye, drew the court’s attention to the deteriorating health of his client.
Maina was brought to court in the morning aided on both sides by a Correctional Service official and a man whose identity could not be ascertained.
Though Oronsanye did not disclose the nature of Maina’s illness, he however informed the court that the first defendant is bleeding and should be allowed to take his medication, adding that because of his worsening health condition, Maina cannot stand trial presently.
He pleaded with Justice Abang to shift the trial pending the time the defendant would have recovered to be able to stand for his defense in the criminal charges against him.
The request for adjournment was not opposed by counsel to the federal government, Mohammed Abubakar.
But, counsel to the second defendant, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, Adeola Adedipe, told the court that the business of the day was for the report from the Nigeria Correctional Centers (NCS) on the health status of Maina; ruling on Maina’s bail application and to take reaction of the prosecution on the objections by the defendants on the admissibility of the document it sought to tender.
Adedipe told the court that he was not ready to go on with the trial unless the issues are addressed by the court, otherwise, the proceedings of the court will be set aside by the Court of Appeal.
The judge, however, conceded to the application for adjournment, and fixed November 25, 2019, for ruling on the bail application and continuation of the trial, which according to him, will be on a day-to-day basis.
Meanwhile, the court has said it will not hesitate to order the police to walk out any counsel or person who attempts to frustrate the proceedings of the court.