two Nigerian Islamic clerics have sent letters to the United States district judge overseeing the ongoing fraud trial of Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas, stating that he is a philanthropist who used his wealth to support impoverished families, Muslims, and Islamic projects. Imam Rasaq Olopede of Madrasat Ridwanu L’Hai- L-Aroyibat Wal Islamiyat Imisi-Oluwa Mosque in Lagos served as a character witness for Mr Abbas before Otis D. Wright, who said he would reach a verdict in the case on November 7.
Likewise, another Islamic cleric Hudu Abdulrasak from a Borno madrasa wrote that Mr Abbas ‘Hushpuppi’ has provided innumerable forms of assistance to the community, including water wells, school fees, boreholes, and feeding programs. After listing some of the ways in which Mr Abbas ‘Hushpuppi’ has helped people in need, Mr Abdulrasak said: “We hereby plead and pray to your honour to kindly put the above-stated into consideration when tempering justice.”
The clerics were horrified at Mr Abbas’ ‘Hushpuppi’ choice to commit crime but asked that the court remember his good deeds when passing sentence. Regina Mariam Manneh, a Dubai resident and mother of one of Mr Abbas’ children, spoke about her family’s suffering since his arrest. She beseeched the judge to consider her child’s future when passing sentence and to give Mr Abbas a lighter sentence that would allow him to be released from jail in time to help raise his children.
Mr Abbas's lawyers persuaded Mr Wright to postpone his sentencing until November 7 in September, in the hope that it would give them enough time to dispute the 11 year jail sentence recommended by the prosecutors. They said they would not contest the requirement for restitution to victims. The prosecutors opposed any further delay to the sentencing beyond September 19, arguing that Mr Abbas and his lawyers were already aware of all relevant matters in the case and were only trying to delay and frustrate the judicial process.
Since Mr Abbas was extradited from Dubai in mid-2020, he has been in U.S. custody and has been languishing in prison. There are concerns he might try to flee, which is why he is considered a flight risk.