A former chairman of the former Pension Reform Task Force (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, is currently undergoing treatment for hearing infections and complications as well as hypertension, Abuja Teaching Hospital said.
The hospital also said Mr Maina, a convict already serving an eight-year prison sentence for embezzling N2billion naira from pension funds, was to undergo a brain scan and hearing loss test.
PREMIUM TIMES has 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 on trial for stealing another pension fund of 738 million naira.
The judge, Abubakar Kutigi, referred to the letter, but refused to disclose its contents during Tuesday’s proceedings.
Mr. Maina was absent from the hearing and his whereabouts could not be immediately determined by either the prosecution or the defence.
PREMIUM TIMES however obtained a copy of the letter dated February 18, 2022 which was signed by IO Omonua, an ENT surgeon at the hospital.
It summarized Mr. Maina’s medical condition and his scheduled medical appointments.
“The male patient named above is being treated in our ear, nose and throat (ENT) clinic for chronic fungal rhinosinusitis to rule out cancer of the left maxillary antrum.
“There was associated itching in the throat, nose and ears. He complained of frequent recurring 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 the Longman Dictionary is “a feeling of being unwell and dizzy caused by looking up from a high place”.
Mr Omonuwa said Mr Maina’s dizziness has been known to “last for a few minutes and (he) has hearing loss in his left ear”.
He added that Mr. Maina also has high blood pressure. Although drugged, he is “poorly controlled”, notes the doctor.
The letter sent to court asking the judge for permission to allow Mr Maina to keep his hospital appointments, added that the former pension reform boss was to undergo tests for hearing loss, brain scan and preoperative assessment between February 21 and 23.
“He has been booked to perform a hearing loss test on 2/21/2022, an IVU procedure on 2/22/2022 and a brain scan on 2/23/2022, for a preoperative checkup.
“We hereby request that you grant him the privilege of accessing medical care at our facility,” the letter adds.
PREMIUM TIMES reported earlier than Mr. Maina was absent from court on Tuesday.
Officials from Abuja prison, where he is currently serving an eight-year sentence for money laundering, were also absent from court.
The judge, Mr. Kutigi, made a passing comment on the letter he received from the hospital regarding Mr. Maina. He, however, did not divulge the details or even the exact name of the hospital.
In reaction to the letter, counsel for the prosecutor Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Attah Ocholi, as well as defense attorneys Anayo Adibe, representing Mr Maina, and KO Balogun, representing the second defendant, all said they were unaware of the letter.
This raised concerns about the fate of Mr. Maina.
Mr Adibe said Mr Maina’s presence in court was essential for the proceedings to continue.
But the judge asked the prosecution to contact the corrections department to find out where Mr. Maina was.
He then adjourned the case until April 27.
Imprisoned, the second trial continues
The Federal High Court in Abuja had in November last year jailed Mr Maina for eight years on charges of money laundering involving the diversion of 2 billion naira from pension funds.
The trial judge, Okon Abang, had convicted Mr Maina on the 12 counts of money laundering brought against him by the EFCC.
The trial in the Federal High Court began about a month before the start of the ongoing trial in the FCT High Court in November 2019.
READ ALSO: Convicted Maina’s second trial stalled, court sets new hearing date
In the ongoing case at the FCT High Court, the EFCC has charged him and his co-defendant, Ann Olachi, with nine counts of theft of various sums of money totaling N738 million belonging to the federal government.
The prosecution alleged that the defendants stole the funds under the guise of payments for the biometric pensioner enrollment contract and stipend payments, among other things.
Some of the offenses would be punishable under Section 317 of the Penal Code Act, Chapter 532, Vol. 4, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, 2007.
History of poor health
Mr Maina’s money laundering trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja was punctuated by complaints of ill health.
Following his repeated absences from court, the judge in November 2020, declared him to have skipped bail.
As a result, the judge imprisoned his guarantor, Ali Ndume, a sitting senator, for a few days.
Mr. Maina was then re-arrested in the Republic of Niger and brought back to Nigeria in December 2020 to continue his trial.
Complaining of a leg injury, Mr Maina began appearing regularly on a wheelchair during his subsequent court appearances.
He filed a new bail application based on health issues. He said in the application that he fled the country to treat a knee injury.
He said the medical care helped him avoid having his leg amputated.
But then EFCC prosecutor Mohammed Abubakar urged the court to reject the new bail request.
He said Mr Maina had no remorse and therefore did not deserve to be granted another bond.
He also argued that the Abuja Teaching Hospital medical report that Mr Maina relied on to seek new bail did not mention the knee injury he claimed to have suffered outside the country. .
The court, in its decision, denied Mr. Maina’s bail application. He remained in custody until his sentence to an eight-year prison term in November 2021.
He also attended his second trial in the FCT High Court from prison.
Mr Maina’s son Faisal, who also canceled his bail for money laundering involving pension funds, was also jailed in absentia last year.
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