A N1 billion fundamental right enforcement suit filed by convicted former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina against the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and the Controller General of Nigerian Correctional Service, following alleged refusal to allow him to go to a hospital of his choice for treatment has been dismissed.
The Federal High Court in Abuja, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, dismissed the lawsuit as Maina lost his bid to temporarily regain his freedom from Kuje prison.
Maina had insisted that he was suffering from a life-threatening disease he said required urgent medical attention.
He prayed the court to issue an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the two respondents from preventing him from seeking medical attention from reputable and recognized hospital of his choice.
However, delivering judgement on the matter on Wednesday, Justice Ekwo dismissed the suit for want of merit.
The court said there was no verifiable evidence that was placed before it to establish that the Applicant was suffering from any life-threatening ailment.
According to the judge, whereas it is accepted universally that prisoners have the right to receive medical treatment, he held that such prisoners do not have the right to pick or choose a specific hospital to be taken to.
Justice Ekwo held that such request by a prisoner would amount to an attempt to hold the state to ransom.
Besides, the court held that authorities of the Correctional Service have done what the law required of them, by taking the Applicant to the Cardiological Department, Orthopaedic and ENT Departments of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada for about 23 times.
He held that uncontroverted proof of evidence before the court showed that the convicted former pension reform boss was provided with medical attention and treatment that was suitable for his situation, as at the time he filed the action.
“Taking a prisoner to a hospital for 23 times demonstrates care and attention on the part of the custodial authorities”, Justice Ekwo held.
More so, the court stressed that Maina did not provide any compelling evidence to prove that either the Minister of Interior or the Controller General of the Correctional Service, had in any way, infringed on any of his basic and statutory rights, while in their custody.
He held that from evidence that was adduced before the court, it appeared as if the Applicant was not looking for medical treatment, but for an indulgent lifestyle while in prison.
The court held that no portion of the law stipulated that any prisoner, including the Applicant, must be treated as a privileged person with absolute rights.
“This application is a ruse and an attempt to belittle the essence of criminal conviction”, the court held, adding that it was aimed to aid the Applicant, Maina, to live above the law.
“I find that the application lacks merit and I make an order dismissing it”, Justice Ekwo held.