Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, stepped down proceedings in the continuation of trial of Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman, defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTM), over his failing health.
Justice Abang, who made the remark, said the order was to allow Maina, who was in court take his medication.
The development began few minutes after the commencement of the proceeding.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed that when the matter was called, Maina, who was sitting with families and officers of the Nigerian Correctional Services, was assisted up by two of the officers, so as to be taken to the dock by his counsel, Francis Oronsaye,
However, the judge order that he should be left to sit where he was.
When the proceeding started, the attention of the judge was brought to Maina’s deteriorating health condition by Oronsaye.
“My Lord, my client is bleeding and I will seek your indulgence to allow him take his medication,” he said.
Justice Abang, therefore , granted the request and stepped down for 20 minutes.
Mr. Francis Orasanye, Lawyer to the former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, has told the Court that his client was bleeding during the court sitting on Thursday.
The alleged N2bn fraud case of the former pension reform boss was called for a continuation of trial on Thursday, but his counsel asked that his client be allowed to take his medication.
The advocate stated that his client cannot stand trial while the issue of his health status is still a question before the court.
He informed the court that it adjourned to receive a report from the Nigerian correctional services in the health status of Mister Maina. And since the Nigerian correctional service has asked for one week to turn in a report it will only be appropriate to await the same.
Following his plea, mild unrest ensued within the court, however, decorum was soon returned, with Mr Orasanye pleading that his client needs his medication, adding that he (Maina) was bleeding.
The court rose for about 20 minutes to honour the request from Maina’s counsel, and after the judge had been informed that Maina had taken his medication, proceedings got back underway.
On return, however, Maina’s lawyer Mister Francis Orasanye said he wants to make an application informing the court that when the court rose at the insistence of the defence the first defendant’s health condition became worse.
He asked the court for an adjournment to sometime next week and the date for tomorrow vacated as well.
This he said is to enable Mr Maina to seek proper medical attention.
Responding, counsel to Mister Ms Abubakar said the counsel is more catholic than the Pope and in any event the court has read out it’s ruling that the matter is adjourned to today for continuation of trial.
He added that pendency of ruling of bail cannot stop the continuation of trial, as the trial can proceed whether the defendant is on bail or otherwise.
On the issue of the medical report, he said in the light of the presence of the first defendant in court, the issue of the medical report cannot stop continuation of trial.
He asked the court to go on with the trial.
On the application for adjournment sort by the defence, Mr Abubakar said because of the defendant’s health, he appreciates that his lawyer said he is not a medical doctor and he is yet to be approached by any prison official with information regarding his health condition.
Abubakar, however, said he is not opposed to the application for adjournment.
In his ruling, the trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang said that the counsel to Maina Mr Adedipe said that except the court makes a pronouncement on the health report of the defendant the matter will be set aside on appeal.
Justice Abang said the statement is a threat to the court and contemptuous on the court.
He warned the lawyer that in his own interest, he should mind his words and not make a submission that is aimed at scaring the court.
The Judge insisted that the matter was not to take a position on the health of Mr Maina, adding that he cannot infer into the health state of the defendant as he is not a medical doctor and it is unbecoming of the counsel to Mr Maina to raise the issue of his health causing confusion in the court.
He insisted that the application for adjournment is only persuasive because we are all humans, stressing that his initial impulse was to continue the trial because his lawyer is not a medical doctor to ascertain his client’s health status.
Justice Abang further informed that court that he will also give in to the defence’s submission because the prosecution is not opposed.
“This means that the prosecution has also contributed to delaying the proceedings because there is no medical report
“A person cannot perform drama in court to frustrate a case.
“The frustration of proceedings caused by the 2nd defendant counsel will not be tolerated again,” Justice Abang stated.
He added that the case will be adjourned till the 25th of November, at the instance of the parties in the case.
“Anybody who attempts to frustrate this case again will make me exercise the powers vested on me by the court and I will order the police to remove such a person from the courtroom and the proceedings shall continue in his absence,” Justice Abang warned.
He also added that the ruling on bail is ready and he would have delivered it tomorrow but because parties asked for adjournment it will be delivered on the next adjourned date.