Okon Abang, judge presiding over the case of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), on Thursday warned a lawyer in the case to mind the way he addresses the court.
When the case was called at the resumed trial, Adeola Adedipe, counsel representing Maina’s company (second defendant), drew the court’s attention to the medical condition of the first defendant.
He had urged the court to take a decision on Maina’s health status as failure to do so could render the proceedings null and void.
Responding to Adedipe’s submissions, Abang said the issue on Maina’s health status was not properly filed and that he would only decide after findings have been made.
He described the counsel’s submissions as “contemptuous” to the court.
“In the course of the proceedings today, the learned counsel for the second defendant submitted that if the court fails to make findings on the health status of the defendant, that the proceedings of the court may be nullified at the court of appeal,” Abang said.
“It means he has threatened the court. The submission of counsel is a threat to the court. It is unbecoming of a counsel of his status.
“Counsel for the first defendant on October 30, did the same thing to the court. Counsel is at liberty to make submission and not to threaten the court.
“This is unethical and contemptuous of the court. Learned counsel for second defendant, in his own interest should mind his words and avoid words that will put fear in the mind of the court.
“This is because counsel is before me. I have jurisdiction over him, I can deal with him summarily.”
Abang also berated officers of the correctional service for failing to comply with the order of the court directing them to conduct a medical examination on the defendant.
“The correctional service has failed to comply with the order of court regarding the medical service. For 15 days they could not provide a medical report. The correctional service is compounding the issue before the court. I cannot infer on the health status of the defendant. I’m not a medical doctor.”
He also said unnecessary adjournments would no longer be tolerated after which the case was adjourned till November 25 for continuation of trial.
Maina is standing trial on 12 counts of money laundering. He was first arraigned on October 25, and he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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