Thursday, July 18, 2024

Arraignment of ex-power minister, Mamman, stalled over ill-health

Ate said Mamman upon being brought into the court premises collapsed and was resuscitated.

• July 11, 2024
Saleh Mamman
Ex-minister of Power, Saleh Mamman

The arraignment of a former Minister of Power under ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, Saleh Mamman, was on Thursday stalled at a Federal High Court, Abuja, due to ill-health.

Mamman, whose plea was fixed for Thursday morning, collapsed outside the courtroom before the case was called.

The former minister’s counsel, Femi Ate, SAN, told Justice James Omotosho shortly when the matter was called for Mamman to take his plea.

Upon resumed hearing, the ex-minister walked into the courtroom and stepped into the dock with part of his clothes drenched.

Justice Omotosho then asked why Mamman was sweating or whether it was raining outside.

The former minister, who responded from the dock, said water was poured on him.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN, while addressing the court, said though the matter was fixed for Mamman’s arraignment, there was a development outside the courtroom.

Olumide-Fusika said he had a discussion with Ate outside the courtroom about Mamman’s ill-health.

“I was informed of an incident outside. I will want my learner senior advocate to tell the honourable court himself,” he said.

Speaking, Ate said Mamman, “Upon being brought into the premises of the court collapsed and had to be resuscitated and treated by the medical personnel of the Federal High Court.”

He said his client was served with the charge after he was resuscitated.

“He was served this morning,” he added.

The senior lawyer said he sought the understanding of Olumide-Fusika for an adjournment so that the arraignment could be done on Monday when his client would have been okay.

But the judge said due to the workload in the court dockets, the arraignment could only be fixed for September ending.

Ate then withdrew the oral application for an adjournment.

Olumide-Fusika said he had just filed an amended charge earlier in the morning following a mistake in the name of the defendant and prayed the court that the fresh charge be read to Mamman to take his plea but Justice Omotosho disagreed with him.

The judge, however, asked Mamman if he was fit enough to take his plea today and he responded in affirmative.

The former minister explained to the court that he collapsed outside the courtroom because of the drugs he took when he had not eaten, and while he was outside the courtroom waiting to be called, his blood pressure dropped.

Mamman, however, said he was fit to continue with the arraignment.

“It can happen to anyone,” the judge said.

The ex-minister told the court that he called the attention of his lawyer to the error made by the EFCC on the name in the charge served on him.

“I was complaining about the name, that it was not my own,” he said.

Justice Omotosho then stepped down the arraignment until 1pm today.

The EFCC had filed a 12-count money laundering charge against Mamman.

He was alleged to have committed money laundering offences to the tune of N33 billion.

The former minister served under former President Buhari from 2019 to 2021.

On May 10, 2021, he was arrested and detained at the headquarters of the anti-graft agency in Abuja.

Buhari had on September 1, 2021, sacked Mamman and the then Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, in what was called a cabinet restructuring.

Mamman was accused of conspiring with staff of the ministry in charge of the accounts of the Zungeru and Mambilla Hydro Electric Power projects to divert about N22 billion.

The investigations uncovered property in Nigeria and overseas allegedly linked to the suspects, while millions of naira and dollars had reportedly been recovered.

(NAN)

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