•Judge frowns at reports of proceedings
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday failed to deliver its scheduled ruling on the bail application filed by former Chairman of the Police Pension Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina.
The accused is facing trial for allegedly diverting pensioners’ funds estimated at N3 billion.
Justice Okon Abang said the court would not be able to render its decision on the application because of its current heavy workload.
“On account of the heavy workload of this honourable court, the court shall reserve ruling on the bail application. The ruling is not ready. The court will give another date,” he said.
Maina was absent in court last Tuesday on account of ill-health.
Justice Abang thus ordered the Deputy Comptroller General of the Nigerian Correctional Services in charge of Welfare and Medical to conduct a thorough examination on the defendant to ascertain his health status and report to the court.
The accused was brought to court on a wheel chair by prison officials.
Prosecution lawyer Mohammed Abubakar told the court that the enrolled order of the court was forwarded to the Deputy Comptroller, Medical and Welfare of the Prison, Mr H. B. Kori, on November 6, 2019.
Abubakar said Kori, in a letter, dated November 6 and which was served on the prosecution on November 6, requested for one week to enable him comply with the court order.
He said Kori’s request was reasonable and urged the court to grant an adjournment till November 21, 2019 for the continuation of trial.
The prosecutor said this would enable the prison medical official comply with the court order on Maina’s health status.
Upon the agreement by lawyers in the case, Justice Abang adjourned till November 21 and 22.
The judge frowned at the way the media reported the proceedings in the case.
He accused journalists of not reflecting the gestures of the court in their reports, alleging that, “some of them serve their personal interest rather than national interest”.
Justice Abang noted that the media were silent on instances where the court indulged the defendant and his lawyers.
The judge averred that when the court allowed Maina to sit down during proceedings and the day the court allowed him to take his drugs in the open court, the press failed to reflect the kind gestures in their reports.
“Lead counsel to Maina, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), walked out on the court during the proceedings of October 30; the press did not report that. Even when Joe Kyari-Gadzama (SAN) threatened the court while arguing for adjournment, the press didn’t mention any of these,” he said.
The judge said the media chose to misinform the public that the judge ordered Maina not to look directly at him while he was delivering a ruling during one of the previous proceedings. “The press is bias. On account of all these, I come to the conclusion that the press is unfair to the court,” Justice Abang added.
On Maina’s decision to attend court on wheel chair, the judge said: “I noticed that the accused was in court in a wheel chair. I didn’t order him to come on a wheel chair. I was deeply touched when I saw him this morning.”