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Fani-Kayode, Metuh, Diezani… eight public servants who suddenly became sick during corruption trial
Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation, failed to appear in court on Wednesday for his ongoing corruption trial because, according to Norrison Quakers (SAN), his counsel, he had been diagnosed and hospitalised with a heart-related ailment.
Norrison pleaded with Justice Rilwan Aikawa to adjourn the hearing to enable him furnish the court with medical records proving Fani-Kayode’s illness.
It is no longer strange for high-profile public officials to take ill as soon as they are charged with corruption, and the ‘trial sickness’ syndrome became more pronounced with the anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari, even though many say it has been largely one-sided.
Given that Fani-Kayode, who is very popular on the social media, posted a tweet just four days ago, it suffices to say that he either tweeted from a hospital bed or he was admitted after that day.
Here are seven more high-profile public officers who became ill and needed to travel abroad for treatment after they were charged with corruption.
Majority of the ongoing corruption trials have a link to Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, who allegedly oversaw the distribution of billions of naira as bribes for the 2015 general election.
Alison-Madueke has been joined as co-defendant in several ongoing trials across the country, with many of her assets home and abroad frozen. However, she won’t come home to face her trial, as she is said to be in the United Kingdom purportedly receiving treatment for cancer. That was what Nigerians were told.
In 2015, Dele Momodu, ace journalist and publisher of Ovation Magazine, shared pictures he claimed to have taken with an emaciated Alison-Madueke in London, as proof of her illness.
But just last weekend, another picture surfaced on the social media, purportedly showing Alison-Madueke at an African Market in London. This recent development has cast a doubt on the authenticity of her cancer claim.
Meanwhile, The BOSS newspaper, which Momodu launched with the DIezani cancer story, has not published a single print edition since then.
Anyway, speedy recovery madam!
The former Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is on trial for allegedly receiving N400 million from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) headed at the time by Sambo Dasuki, a retired Army Colonel, who is also being held by the Department of State Services (DSS) for embezzling funds meant for arms purchase.
In May 2016 Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, refused to grant Metuh leave to travel abroad for medical treatment, and only five days ago, on January 26, Abang threatened to revoke Metuh’s bail if he continues to dodge trial on the excuse of ill health.
“This court shall henceforth not accept any other medical report issued by any Medical Doctor in Nigeria until the trial is concluded,” Abang ruled.
“It is expected that the defendant will turn to a new leaf, show compulsion and attend his trial on February 5 and 6. If he fails to appear in court on these dates fixed for continuation of his trial, his bail shall be revoked and he will be remanded in prison custody.”
We wish Metuh a speedy recovery over the next four days!
The former Minister of Finance is standing trial alongside Fani-Kayode for allegedly embezzling N4.6 billion, to which they both pleaded not guilty
Months into their trial, Usman applied for leave to travel to the United States of America to receive treatment for cancer.
The permission was granted by Justice Rilwan Aikawa on December 5, 2017, who ordered the court’s registrar to release Usman’s passport to her. She was to have travelled on December 18.
Many Nigerians were left shell-shocked when the EFCC said it had recovered $9,8 million and £74,000 cash from a house in Kaduna owned by Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The EFCC quoted Yakubu as saying the money, about N3 billion, was “gift from unnamed persons”.
Yakubu even filed a counter-charge, asking the Kano State High Court to overturn an interim forfeiture order it had placed on the recovered money.
The EFCC eventually arraigned Yakubu before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja on a six-count charge of money laundering and false assets declaration; he pleaded not guilty.
But in May 2017, barely two months after his trial began, Yakubu suddenly developed an illness that he needed to travel to the United Kingdom to get treatment for.
He applied and was granted permission to travel, even though the trial judge ordered that he must return after three weeks to face his trial.
Dikko was Chief of Air Staff between September 2010 and October 2012, a period within which the EFCC alleges that he dipped his hands into the Air Force treasury. He was accused of buying six choice properties in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano with his illegally-acquired wealth.
He too, during his trial, developed sickness, for which Justice Nnamdi Dimgba granted him permission to travel abroad for medical checkup.
The former Head of Service of the Federation is a hero-turned-villain type of character in the anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria.
It was Oronsaye who, in his quest to unravel the mystery of pension fraud, brought in Abdulrasheed Maina from the Ministry of Interior to head the newly-formed Pension Reforms Task Team (PRTT) in 2010. The team went on to achieve tremendous success, cracking pension fraud syndicates and recovering trillions in cash and property.
But it was later discovered that while they recovered huge sums of money, they also helped themselves to the recovered loot, hence the EFCC slammed both Oronsaye and Maina with multiple charges of fraud.
Maina refused to face trial and fled the country after he was declared wanted, but Oronsaye pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In November, 2017 Oronsaye applied for permission to travel to India for medical treatment, and Justice Gabriel Kolawole approved the application on December 13. But he ordered that the accused person must be back in Nigeria on or before January 31, 2018 to continue his trial.
Kuku served as Special Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs to then President Goodluck Jonathan, and it was in this capacity that he allegedly stole billions of state funds earmarked for the presidential amnesty programme.
He fled the country to the United States of America after he was invited by the EFCC for questioning, but his lawyer maintains that he was not fleeing from prosecution, but had only travelled to the US for a knee surgery.
To prove this, Kuku released pictures of himself being carried on a stretcher into a waiting ambulance, and another one showing him posing with crutches and his right leg cast in Plaster of Paris (POP).
Meanwhile, Henry Ugbolue and Lawrence Pepple, two of Kuku’s right hand men when he was in office, have been arrested and arraigned by the EFCC on charges false assets declaration and fraudulent acquisition of property.