The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday said that ruling in an application filed by a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT)’ Abdulrasheed Maina, seeking the variation of his bail conditions was not ready.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, held that the ruling, though was not ready, was still within time.
Justice Abang, however, frowned at a Thursday’s newspaper publication, which he described as “contemptuous.”
The judge said that the court registrar had called his attention to the publication before sitting in the morning.
And when Maina’s case was called, Justice Abang directed the registrar to read out the said publication in the open court.
“Behold, it was a publication concerning a case that was set down for ruling today for variation of the bail conditions of Abdulrasheed Maina,” the judge remarked.
Unhappy with the report, Justice Abang said the move was to influence the decision of the court.
According to the judge: “I consider the publication to be contemptuous of this court.
“With this publication, this court is being threatened.
“It is trying to influence or prejudice the minds of the court to deliver ruling in a particular way by relying on extraneous issues that are totally irrelevant to the issues placed before the court for adjudication,” he said.
The judge held that the publication was a direct violation of Section 133 Subsection 4 of the Criminal Code and that any one that was guilty of the offence was liable to be committed to prison for contempt of court.
He pointed out that he had planned to order the editor and the reporter of the newspaper to appear before the court to show cause while contempt proceeding should not be commenced before another court against them and for them to disclose the sponsor of the publication and their intention, considering the nature of the matter.
“But having considered the persuasive arguments of the counsel representing the prosecution and the defence, I will leave the newspaper, its staff and sponsors to their conscience,” he said.
The judge, however, cautioned against analysing a judge in the discharge of his duty.
Earlier, the prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, had urged the court to “disregard the publication and deliver the ruling whenever it is ready since there is no indication that either party is involved in the news conference or publication.”
He also described the publication as “contempt of court.”