A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), seeking to be allowed to seek medical attention.
Recall that on November 8, 2021, Maina was sentenced to eight years in prison after he was found guilty of money laundering.
In a motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1729/2022, dated and filed on September 27, the convict prayed the court for an interim order directing Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, and Haliru Nababa, controller-general of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), to immediately take him to a reputable hospital for treatment.
However, Aregbesola and Baba accused Maina of feigning illness to aid his escape from prison.
In his judgment on Wednesday, Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, held that Maina’s application is a “ruse” designed to help him escape from prison.
“In my opinion, this application is a ruse,” the judge said.
“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.”
The judge further held that the defendants placed sufficient evidence before the court to show that the applicant (Maina) was given proper medical care.
Ekwo said the exhibits tendered showed that Maina was taken to the cardiological department, orthopaedic and ENT departments of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada about 23 times.
“Taking a prisoner to a hospital 23 times demonstrates care and attention on the part of the custodial authorities,” he said.
“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.”
The judge said the applicant must have “lost it” by alleging that the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital is not a “reputable and recognised hospital”.
“I hereby state categorically that a teaching hospital in Nigeria is a reputable and recognised hospital,” Ekwo said.
The judge also said although prisoners have a right to receive medical treatment, they do not have a right to hold the state to ransom on such demand.
“This application, in my opinion, is clear evidence of the fact that the applicant is yet to undergo any degree of reformation that his conviction and sentence to prison custody is meant to achieve,” the judge added.
“From the evidence before me, it is manifestly clear 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.
“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.”