An officer of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Kuje, on Friday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, was not in court because of knee problems.
The officer, who did not mention his name in the court, told Justice Okon Abang shortly after the matter was called.
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Justice Abang had asked the officer why the defendant (Maina) was not produced in court.
The judge directed the court registrar to pass a paper to the prison officer to write his name.
Responding, the officer said that Maina was not in court because he was having problems with his two knees.
He, however, said though he was not in the courtroom, the former pension reformed boss was in a car outside the court premises.
“My lord, the defendant is in the car outside. He has problem with both kneels,” 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.
Adaji hinged his application on the claim 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 asked Adaji 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.
The News Agency of Nigeria had reported on June 17 that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 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 a fiat 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.
NAN reports that 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.
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