The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has dismissed a suit filed by Abdulrasheed Maina against interior minister Rauf Aregbesola and Haliru Nababa, controller general of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), over his alleged ill health.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that Mr Maina had not provided any compelling evidence to prove that the minister and the prison boss had infringed on any of his basic rights as provided by the law while in their custody.
“In my opinion, this application is a ruse. It is an attempt to belittle the essence of criminal conviction and to aid the applicant (Maina) to live above the law. I find that the application lacks merit, and I make an order dismissing it,” Mr Ekwo declared.
Mr Maina, the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), had, on October 17, filed a motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1729/2022.
Mr Maina (the applicant) listed the minister and the controller general as the first and second respondents in a motion dated and filed on September 27.
The ex-PRTT boss, currently serving an eight-year jail term at the Kuje Prison for N2 billion pension fraud, had told the court that he was suffering from a life-threatening disease in prison and needed urgent medical attention.
Giving 10 grounds why the motion should be granted, Mr Maina said the failure to treat the diseases/sicknesses he is suffering had led to his incapacitation and deterioration of his health.
But in their joint counter affidavit in opposition to Mr Maina’s originating motion, the minister and the controller said, “It has become glare from intelligence report at their disposal that the applicant (Maina) only feigns the ailments for him to be taken out of the custodial facility to aid his escape from lawful custody.”
They argued that Mr Maina had access to medical attention at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, where he had severally been attended to, and that the exhibits attached amply bore out these facts.
They said the operatives of the NCoS received a confidential, top-secret intelligence report that Mr Maina, through the act, was planning his escape with “gunmen” suspected to be loyal to him.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo held that by taking Mr Maina to the cardiological department, orthopaedic and ENT departments of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, about 23 times, as stated in the exhibits provided, showed that he received adequate medical attention and treatment.
“The allegation of the applicant that the refusal of the respondents to take the applicant to a reputable and recognised hospital for medical attention or treatment cannot be founded in the circumstance of this case,” he said.
According to the judge, if the applicant, by the allegation, is saying that the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital is not a ‘reputable and recognised hospital’, then the applicant has lost it.
“I hereby state categorically that a teaching hospital in Nigeria is a reputable and recognised hospital,” Mr Ekwo said. “From the evidence before me, it is manifestly dear that the applicant is not just looking for medical treatment but an indulgent lifestyle while in prison. He wants to be treated as a privileged person with absolute rights and privileges.”
The judge added, “It is either the applicant does not understand the limitations of a custodial life or is pretending not to do so. The court will not interfere with the actions and decisions of the custodial authorities once it is demonstrated that they acted within the confines of the statute regulating the performance of their functions.” (NAN)