A former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, is currently undergoing treatment for infections and hearing complications as well as hypertension, the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital has stated.
The hospital also stated that Mr Maina, a convict already serving an eight-year jail term for embezzling N2 billion in pension fund, was scheduled for a brain scan and hearing loss test.
PREMIUM TIMES obtained a copy of the letter sent by the hospital to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jabi, Abuja, where Mr Maina is undergoing trial for stealing another N738 million pension fund.
The judge, Abubakar Kutigi, referred to the letter, but refused to disclose its content during Tuesday’s proceedings.
Mr Maina was absent from the hearing and his whereabouts could not be immediately ascertained by both the prosecution and the defence.
PREMIUM TIMES has, however, obtained a copy of the letter dated February 18, 2022 which was signed by I.O Omonua, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) consultant surgeon at the hospital.
It summarised Mr Maina’s health conditions and his scheduled medical appointments.
“The above-named male patient being managed at our Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinic for the chronic fungal Rhinosinusitis to rule out cancer left maxillary antrum.
“There was associated itching in the throat, nose and ear. He complained of frequent recurrent nasal blockage, post nasal drip and difficulty when exposed to dust, perfumes and chemicals,” the letter read in part.
The doctor added that Mr Maina “has a history of episodes of vertigo”, which according to Longman dictionary is “a feeling of sickness and dizziness caused by looking down from a high place”.
Mr Omonuwa said Mr Maina’s vertigo is known to be “lasting for a few minutes and (he) has hearing loss in the left ear.”
He added that Mr Maina is also hypertensive. Although on drug, he is “poorly controlled”, the doctor noted.
The letter sent to the court to seek the judge’s permission to enable Mr Maina to keep appointments with the hospital, added that ex-pension reform boss was scheduled for examinations for hearing loss, brain scan, and pre-operative work-up between February 21 and 23.
“He has been booked to conduct hearing loss test on 21/2/2022, IVU procedure on 22/02/2022, and brain CT-Scan on 23/02/2022, for pre-operative workup.
“We hereby appeal to you to grant him the privilege of accessing medical care in our facility,” the letter added.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that Mr Maina was absent from court on Tuesday.
Officials of the prison in Abuja, where he is serving an ongoing eight years sentence for money laundering, were also absent from court.
The judge, Mr Kutigi, made a passing comment about the letter he received from the hospital concerning Mr Maina. He, however, did not disclose the details or even the exact name of the hospital.
In the reaction to the letter, the prosecuting lawyer from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Attah Ocholi, as well as the defence lawyers, Anayo Adibe, representing Mr Maina, and K.O. Balogun, representing the second defendant, all said they were unaware of the letter.
This raised concerns about Mr Maina’s whereabouts.
Mr Adibe said Mr Maina’s presence in court was critical for the proceedings to go on.
But the judge requested the prosecution to communicate with the correctional service department over Mr Maina’s whereabouts.
He then adjourned the case until April 27.
Jailed, second trial continues
The Federal High Court in Abuja had, in November last year, jailed Mr Maina for eight years for money laundering involving the diversion of N2 billion in pension funds.
The trial judge, Okon Abang, had convicted Mr Maina on all the 12 counts of money laundering filed against him by the EFCC.
The trial at the Federal High Cour commenced just about a month before the ongoing trial at the FCT High Court started in November 2019.
In the ongoing case at the FCT High Court, the EFCC charged him and his co-defendant, Ann Olachi, with nine counts of stealing various sums of money totalling N738 million belonging to the federal government.
The prosecution alleged that the defendants stole the funds under the guise of payments for the contract for biometric enrollment of pensioners and payments for allowances, among others.
Some of the offences were said to be punishable under Section 317 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, vol. 4, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, 2007.
History of ill health
Mr Maina’s trial for money laundering at the Federal High Court in Abuja was punctuated by complaints of ill health.
Following his repeated absence from court, the judge in November 2020, declared him to have jumped bail.
As a consequence, the judge imprisoned his surety, Ali Ndume, a serving senator, for some days.
Mr Maina was later rearrested in Niger Republic and brought back to Nigeria in December 2020 for him to continue his trial.
Complaining of leg injury, Mr Maina started appearing consistently on a wheelchair during his subsequent court appearances.
He filed a fresh bail application anchored on ill health. He said in the application that he fled the country to attend to a knee injury.
He said the medical attention helped him to avert leg amputation.
But the then EFCC prosecutor, Mohammed Abubakar, urged the court to dismiss the fresh bail application.
He said Mr Maina was not remorseful, hence did not deserve to be granted another bail.
He also argued that the University of the Abuja Teaching Hospital’s medical report relied on by Mr Maina to ask for fresh bail was silent on the knee injury he claimed to have undergone outside the country.
The court in its ruling, dismissed Mr Maina’s bail application. He remained in detention till when he was sentenced for an eight-year jail term in November 2021.
He has also been attending his second trial at the FCT High Court from prison.
Mr Maina’s son, Faisal, who similarly jumped bail for money laundering involving pension funds, was also jailed in absentia last year.
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