The increasing use of disability status by fraudulent Nigerians to escape trials

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From EVELYN DADU, Abuja

It is no longer news that Nigerian politicians seem to have adopted a new strategy that trivializes very serious corruption charges leveled against them by the present President Mohammadu Buhari led government, as they are now seen using wheelchairs, stretchers, crutches and other forms of mobility to convince the judges and Nigerians in general, that they are not fit to face trial as prescribed by the law, due to health challenges.

Included on the top list of those who displayed such drama was Maina Abdulrasheed, the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team arrived the Federal High Court in Abuja on a wheelchair. Judge Okong Abang who saw Maina, was obviously sold out by the drama staged, and he revealed that he was deeply touched when he saw Maina “on a wheel Chair”.

In the same vein, Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, represented by Deputy Controller General Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Hassan Kori, on behalf of Maina sought for one additional week to check and report to the Court, the true health status of Maina.

The famous Senator Dino Melaye, when arrested on corruption charges and taken to the court recently, having studied the pattern over time, also pretended to be very ill and was carried on a wheel chair into the court room to attract sympathy.

Former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Haliru Bello and former National Publicity Secretary of the same political party, Olisah Metuh when accused of corruption charges in 2015 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) played same trick. Haliru Bello had a four count charges for the role he allegedly played in diverting funds meant for the procurement of arms in the office of the National Security Adviser while Metuh on his part allegedly received a total sum of four hundred million Naira for a contract in the office of the National Security Adviser which he never executed.

Others in the same category includes the then Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, appearing in Court alongside former militant, popularly known as ‘Tompolo’ for stealing over two billion Naira, belonging to the government agency NIMASA, ensured he got crutches, all in the bid to attract sympathy.

Recently, the Nigerian Army began the trial of the General Commanding Officer, Sokoto State, Maj. Gen. Hakim Otiki over the alleged diversion of 400 million Naira by five runaway soldiers attached to the division. The former GOC appeared in court on a wheel chair, having with him medical officers of the Nigerian Army who monitored his health throughout the duration of the hearing.

It has become a trend that once they are on trial, though looking healthy and carrying smiling faces, they become sick and their high profile cars and jeeps are replaced by wheel chairs, stretchers and crutches. Some of them even carry collar on their necks and their speeches become stuttered, but the questions on the lips of ordinary Nigerians and watchers of events as affecting trials of corrupt politicians are many.

Some of the questions include, when will this wheel chair court appearance end? Why should Judges allow politics in the courtrooms? When will our judges and the law courts acquire the requisite ability and boldness to execute judgement without considering sentiments? When will a known politician go to jail and actually serve his jail term complete? The questions are numerous but time will answer all.

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