Probing Nigerian politicians for alleged corruption is like looking for water on cocoyam leaves; it’s always frustrating as they come up with different tactics to evade justice.
If they are not shopping for frivolous court injunctions, they are coming up with various theatrics, prominent of which is suddenly developing “health issues” after which they usually ask for permission to travel abroad for treatment.
This theatric of developing health issues in the face of probes has been “adopted” by at least six prominent Nigerian politicians and government officials in recent times.
This piece highlights five Nigerian politicians and government officials who developed health issues or took ill in the face of corruption probes.
1. Olisa Metuh
Olisa Metuh is a former spokesperson of Nigeria’s lead opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He was arraigned in 2016 for money laundering by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-graft commission accused him of receiving N400 million from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
In the course of his trial by the EFCC, Metuh claimed to have health issues and asked the court to give him permission to get treatment abroad. His requests were denied.
Subsequently, he was absent in court proceedings on the grounds of ill health, according to his lawyers.
During one of his appearances in court, in February 2018, Metuh dramatically appeared in court in an ambulance.
His counsel told the court that he had been admitted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra state.
The former PDP spokesperson subsequently had a “fainting” episode in court. In March 2018, He ‘fainted’ as he approached the dock.
Following the development, his lawyer requested a withdrawal from the case while the presiding the judge on the case, Okon Abang, insisted that the trial must continue.
In February 2020, the court ruled on Metuh’s case: he was sentenced to 39 years imprisonment.
2. Bello Haliru Mohammed
In 2016, the former chairman of the PDP, Bello Haliru Mohammed also appeared on wheelchair at the Federal High Court in Abuja for his trial.
The EFCC had also accused Haliru and his son of collecting money from the $2 billion arms deal scam under the former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki.
3. Senator Dino Melaye
A former Nigerian senator, Dino Melaye, was arrested by the police in April 2018, on allegations of criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, after some suspects claimed he was their chief supplier of arms.
However, he jumped out of the moving vehicle with which the police were conveying him to a Lokoja court, eventually landing at the Zankili Medical Center, Mabuchi, Abuja.
He was later transferred to the National Hospital, Abuja, before having his day at an Abuja magistrate court.
While he was granted bail by the court, he was immediately rearrested by the police for onward transfer to Kogi state to answer to fresh charges not covered by his initial arraignment.
A magistrate court in Lokoja denied him bail and ordered his remandment in prison for about five weeks.
However, each time Melaye appeared in court, it was on a stretcher off an ambulance, with eyes closed and arms stationary; quite a drama.
4. Abdulrasheed Maina
Another government official on the list is the former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.
Maina is being prosecuted by the EFCC over alleged N2 billion pension fund fraud, money laundering, and operating fictitious bank accounts among others. He is also accused of diverting N100 billion of pension funds.
The former pension boss told a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) high court where he is being prosecuted that he was ill and subsequently appeared in court on a wheelchair, to buttress his claim.
On the basis of the alleged ill-health, Maina submitted a bail application which was granted. He, however, remains in detention as he is yet to meet the bail conditions.
5. Kemebradikumo Pondei
The latest of this instance is the case of Kemebradikumo Pondei, the interim managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) who, on Monday, June 20, ‘fainted’ while being probed at the National Assembly.
A committee set up by the House of Representatives was quizzing Pondei about alleged cases of monumental fraud at the NDDC before he blacked out. The incident was captured live on national TV.
Meanwhile, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has given a final order on the probe involving Pondei.
Following what happened while he was being interrogated by the House committee of the NDDC, Gbajabiamila stated that the commission's acting boss will not be brought before the panel again.
The speaker said that the committee can use the documents presented by Pondei on Monday, July 20, to carry out its investigation and all other necessary actions.
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