Federal High Court, Abujaon wednesday, a pension fraudster, Abdulrasheed Maina, who is still serving a jail term, rejected the plea that he sought treatment for certain ailments at a hospital of his choice.
Mr. Maina, a former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Force (PRTT), is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence at the Kuje Prison, Abuja, for a pension fraud of N2 billion.
The convict, who is facing another trial on charges of pension fraud, sought the court’s permission to seek medical treatment at a “reputable hospital” outside prisons.
He claimed that denying the prayer could violate his rights by the Minister of Interior, the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) and the NCoS itself.
In the case filed on September 27, he told the judge that he was suffering from a life-threatening illness in prison and that he needed urgent medical attention.
The Home Minister and prison authorities, who were charged as defendants, opposed the case saying it was an attempt to create a way for Mr. Maina to escape from prison.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the case in a ruling on Wednesday, finding that Mr. Maina could not prove his claims.
The judge said that the convict’s case was an attempt to nullify the sentence, and the convict’s medical records confirmed that he was receiving adequate medical care while in custody.
“I think this app is a trick. It is an attempt to downplay the substance of the criminal sentence and help the petitioner (Maina) live above the law.
“I find that the petition has no merit and I order it to be dismissed,” Mr. Ekwo stated.
He said the records tendered as exhibits showed that Mr. Maina was taken to the Department of Cardiology, the Department of Orthopedics and the ENT Department of the University Hospital, Abuja about 23 times.
According to him, it is universally accepted that prisoners have the right to receive medical treatment, but not by choosing a particular hospital and asking the state for ransom.
Maina said the treatments he received at the hospital were appropriate for his station in life since the petition was filed.
“Taking a prisoner to hospital 23 times shows care and concern on the part of the custodial authorities.
“The petitioner’s allegation that the defendants refused to take the petitioner to a reputable and recognized hospital for medical attention or treatment cannot be based on the circumstances of this case,” said the judge.
Contrary to Mr. Maina’s contention, the judge “categorically” said that “a teaching hospital in Nigeria is a reputable and recognized hospital”.
“This request, in my opinion, is clear evidence that the petitioner still does not have to undergo the degree of reformation he seeks to obtain his conviction and prison sentence,” the judge said.
He called Maina’s attention to “the limits of a life of care.”
“On the evidence before me, it is clear that the petitioner is not only seeking medical treatment but also a comfortable lifestyle while incarcerated.
“He wants to be treated as a privileged person with absolute rights and privileges,” said the judge.
Maina planned to escape from prison – Official
The defendants – Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and Comptroller-General of NCoS, Haliru Nababa – opposed Mr Maina’s case, saying he only feigned illness to gain justification for releasing the convict from prisons.
Officials said in joint filings against Mr. Maina’s lawsuit that an intelligence report revealed: “The applicant (Maina) is only feigning illness to get out of the custodial facility in order to escape legal custody.”
Contrary to Mr. Maina’s claim, he was never denied access to medical services in prison.
Rather, they said Mr. Maina wanted to be taken outside the prisons for treatment so that he could escape legal custody.
They said that Mr. Maina was granted access to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada on several occasions for treatment, only to find that he had staged a gimmick to get a referral to the hospital.
They said NCoS operatives had received a confidential and top secret intelligence report that Mr Maina was planning his escape with “armed gunmen” suspected of being loyal to him.
Medical reports in support of his case have been described as “self-inflicted”.
The court was told that Mr Maina was only raising false health alarms, and asked the court to dismiss the case.
Ill health fraud trial
This is not the first time that Mr. Maina has feigned illness as a means of avoiding justice.
About a year into the trial before another judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Okon Abang, there were complaints of ill health.
Mr. Maina posted bail in the middle of the trial, and asked the trial judge to issue a warrant of arrest against him and proceed with the trial in his absence in November.
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As a result, the judge remanded his surety, Senator Ali Ndume, in jail for a few days.
Mr. Maina was then re-arrested in Niger Republic and returned to Nigeria to continue his trial in December 2020.
A few weeks after he was arrested again, Maina filed another bail application on health grounds.
Suspecting that his bail jumping record would count against his new bail application, Mr. Maina said he had to travel to Niger Republic for treatment on a leg at that time he said there was a risk of amputation.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the prosecuting agency, strongly against bond application
the court rejected the new bail application In the judgment of February 25, 2021, Mr. Maina was found to have previously betrayed the trust by jumping bail.
At the end of the trial, the court, on November 8, 2021, Mr. Maina was imprisoned for 12 years After he was convicted of the 12 counts preferred against him by the EFCC.
Still serving his prison sentence, Mr. Maina is facing another pension fraud trial at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja.
Mr. Maina’s the claim of ill health has stopped the trial on several occasions.
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