An officer of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOs), Kuje, on Friday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that a former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina was not in the courtroom because he has issues with both knees.
The officer, who did not mention his name in the open court, said this to Justice Okon Abang shortly after the matter was called.
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 Maina was not in the courtroom because he was having a problem on his two knees.
He, however, said although 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 a problem with both knees,” he said.
Abang then directed the registrar to tell him if he received the hearing notice for the sitting and that court sits at 9 am.
“Registrar, tell him 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 the courtroom and not outside the court.”
Justice Abang, then, recorded that Maina was absent for the. proceeding.
Earlier, Maina’s Counsel, Abel Adaji 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 the jurisdiction, we are humbly appealing for a very short date,” he had said.
The judge, then, asked him 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 (NAN) had reported, on June 17, that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 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 the 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 facing a trial on alleged money laundering to the tune of N2.1 billion.