On Friday, Abdulrasheed Maina, defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT) chairman, stayed in his car and refused to enter the courtroom despite the judge’s request that he should appear before him.
A Kuje prison officer told the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court that Mr Maina could not get into the courtroom because of his bad knees.
The prison officer, who did not mention his name in the open court, told Justice Okon Abang shortly after the matter was called. Mr Abang had asked the officer why the defendant (Maina) was in court.
The judge directed the court registrar to pass a paper to the prison officer to write his name. Responding, the officer said Mr Maina was not in the courtroom because he had a problem with his knees. He, however, said though he was not in the courtroom, the ex-pension boss 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.
Mr Abang then directed the registrar to tell him if he received the hearing notice for the sitting and that court sits at 9:00 a.m.
“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 courtroom and not outside the court.”
Mr Abang then recorded that Mr Maina was absent for the proceeding.
Earlier, Mr Maina’s counsel, Abel Adaji, prayed the court for a short adjournment.
Mr Adaji hinged his application on the claim that he was not served with the hearing notice on 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 lawyer), informed me this morning that the matter is slated for continuation of hearing this morning. I did not ask how he got the information,” he told the court.
On June 17, the EFCC had urged chief judge John Tsoho not to reassign some cases, including Mr Maina’s suit, to another judge.
The anti-graft commission was reported to have applied to Mr Tsoho for fiat to allow Mr 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.