• Trial adjourned till March 14
The trial of former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, continued yesterday.
He was brought to court in an ambulance belonging to the National Hospital, Abuja, and remained strapped to a stretcher during proceedings.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had on January 25 ordered Metuh to appear in court on February 5 or be arrested and sent to jail. This was after failed efforts by counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, to secure an adjournment to enable the former spokesperson to attend to his health.
A letter dated January 21 and signed by one Doctor Ekweogwu O. C. of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, was addressed to the court, notifying it that Metuh was sick and was receiving treatment at the hospital.
The judge had, however, doubted its authenticity, questioning how it found its way into the court file.
Not satisfied with the argument by Metuh’s lawyer, Abang stated he would no longer accept any report by any medical doctor in Nigeria until the trial was concluded.
Metuh had sought to travel abroad for treatment earlier in the trial. The court denied the application, referring him to any of the teaching hospitals in the country.
But at the resumed hearing, yesterday, his health condition forced the court to exercise restraint on compassionate ground.
After the prosecution counsel Sylvanus Tahir and Metuh’s counsel Ikpeazu had made their submissions, the court held that it was minded to grant an adjournment.
Abang, therefore, accepted Ikpeazu’s plea that the trial be adjourned for one month. He said: “The first defendant is in court. But his counsel informed the court that he is indisposed to continue trial and pleaded for a one-month adjournment. The court also noted that the prosecution counsel did not oppose the oral application of Ikpeazu that the matter be adjourned to a period of one month.
“I have considered the application of counsel to the first defendant and the response of the prosecution counsel. I must say that the court of law must be firm and fair to all parties. The court of law must also be humane.
“On account of the condition of Metuh that I have seen this morning in the courtroom, I am inclined to grant an adjournment, to enable him to attend to his medical needs. Consequently, this trial, God willing, has been adjourned to March 14,15 and 16, for continuation.”
Earlier, Tahir had told the court to use its discretion to grant an adjournment, while appealing for understanding from the defence lawyers.
“May I disabuse the mind of the court, the gallery and counsel for defence that we are prosecutors and not persecutors. We are doing our job. And in doing that, we have no ill feelings about anybody,” Tahir said.
Metuh is standing trial over alleged corruption.
Part of the seven-count charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission reads: “That you Olisa Metuh and Destra Investment Limited, on or about November 24, 2014 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, took possession of the sum of N400,000 000:00 (Four hundred Million Naira) only, paid into the account of Destra Investments Limited with Diamond Bank Plc, with account number : 0040437573, from the account of the office of the National Security Adviser with the Central Bank of Nigeria without contract award when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd.); the then National Security Adviser (to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption) and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”