By Bala Ibrahim.

Although by now, the world is fairly familiar with the antics of some Nigerian suspects, who are always quick to collapse in court the minute they are charged, the shamelessness with which the drama is displayed, is growing from amusement to bemusement.

Yesterday Thursday, the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, who was extradited last week from the Niger Republic, after he jumped bail and escaped the country, was arraigned before Justice Okon Abang in Abuja. 

The federal government, through the EFCC, has charged Maina before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on a 12-count charge of fraud and money laundering, to the tune of N2billion.  

The court had earlier on revoked his bail, ordered his arrest, and directed that his trial would proceed in his absence pending when he is apprehended. Alas, he was arrested in the neighboring Niger Republic, where he was playing the fugitive.

While his lawyer, Anayo Adibe, was addressing the court on a no-case submission, the former pension boss dramatically collapsed and remained vegetative on the floor. The court was compelled to adjourn sitting for some time, in order to attend to the drama. 

Although the law has given cover for suspects to seek the enforcement of their Human Rights, especially as it relates to health, many are simply committing Human Wrongs, by pretending to be sick, in order for the accused to gain public sympathy.

Yes public sympathy, that may facilitate the protraction of the trial, and ultimately a long delay in the delivery of justice. Metuh started it, Melaye perfected it and now Maina is polishing and cashing-in on the same franchise, with the intent of evading justice. A case of relying on Human Rights, to commit Human wrong, in order for the accused to gain public sympathy.

Indeed, through the drama of yesterday, Maina had succeeded in giving the traction of the trial a tactical delay, as the case was adjourned till December 21 and 22. 

It may be recalled that, before his escape to Niger, Maina had played similar tricks of ill-health to frustrate the trial. In November 2019, the trial was stalled, after the testimony of a medical expert, who claimed that Maina could not come to court because of his ill health. In another instance, some doctors were used to announce that the same Maina always suffer from bleeding during court sittings. And yesterday, the hitherto agile and globe trotting Maina had collapsed on the floor of the court, desperately seeking for breath.

Directly or indirectly, looking at the ease with which suspects on corruption charges are turning courts into drama theatres or centres of circus, one can say that unless the government becomes more serious, the fight against corruption would only end up exposing Nigeria to greater embarrassments.

While some are blaming lawyers, who on one hand, through numerous Human Rights organisations, are advocating for the fight against corruption, on the other hand, some of them are conniving with the corruption suspects to play circus in courts. 

Using the finger of Human Right, the suspect would try to hide himself under the guise of ill health, without any shame to the glaring Human wrong he is committing.

The time has arrived for the government to focus on the ways to checkmate the activities of these crooks, otherwise the courts would loose credibility, and corruption trials would be treated as mere  mockeries.

Legislation should look at ways of reviewing the so called rights of the suspect, which demands that the anti-graft agencies necessarily have a responsibility to pamper the accused, as enshrined in the principles of the rule of law. By doing that, the suspects are permitted to get away with many Human wrongs, in the name of Human rights.

Yes, the law should respect the rights of the suspect, by not allowing any open abuse while the suspect is apprehended or in detention. He or she must equally not be subjected to undue media trial. But at the same time, the suspects must not be given the leeway to ridicule the process. Permitting such drama I think, constitutes a form of corruption in itself. 

The courts must come clean by not dancing to the tunes of these “artist” suspects, while the government should desist from disobeying court orders, especially with regards to the release of the accused.

If that is done, a stop can be put to the wanton commission of Human wrongs, in the name of Human rights.