Court Rules Metuh’s Trial To Proceed In His Absence

…Summons Channels TV reporter, General Manager

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered that the criminal trial of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, will henceforth proceed in his absence.

Justice Okon Abang, in a ruling on Wednesday, said the court was entitled to proceed with the trial in Metuh’s absence, considering the defendant’s previous several attempts to frustrate the trial and the way he allegedly conducted himself after he fell down in court on Monday.

The judge ruled, “The application by prosecution deserves to succeed.

“The trial shall proceed in the absence of the defendant. See Section 266(a) and section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.”

The court also summoned the General Manager of the Channels Television in Abuja and a presenter with the television, Mrs. Maupe Ogun-Yusuf, to appear before the court on May 25.

The judge said the television’s officials were being summoned in respect of the prosecution’s allegation that the television aired prejudicial statements allegedly made by a lawyer in Metuh’s defence team, Mr. Ben Chuks Nwosu, during the medium’s Tuesday’s edition of Sunrise Daily.

Metuh fell down as he was making his way to the dock on Monday.

He was later taken away in the court’s ambulance and has since been absent from court during both the Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s proceedings.

But Justice Abang held on Wednesday that Metuh deliberately fell down on Monday.

The judge noted that Metuh chose to deliberately ignore the lawful directive of the court instructing him to remain seated and not to go into the dock.

He said Metuh chose to move towards the dock and then fell down.

He said Metuh went on to disturb proceedings by whimpering and groaning loudly “to give the impression that he was in pains” and made the court to look like an accident scene.

Olisa Metuh Pleads For Approval To Receive Foreign Treatment

The former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, has appealed to the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking for the release of his international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical attention.

In his application moved by his counsel, Emeka Etiaba, prayed the trial judge, Okon Abang, to grant him leave to travel abroad on health reasons.

Mr.  Metuh, who is facing a seven-count charge before the court, had earlier been granted a N400 million bail to by the court.

Other bail conditions, according to Justice Abang was for Mr. Metuh to provide two sureties with N200 million each. The sureties, the court held, must have properties in Maitama district of Abuja.

The court also ordered the former PDP spokesman to also submit his international passport to the Registrar of the court as part of the conditions for his bail.

Arguing the application for the release of Mr. Metuh’s travel document yesterday, his counsel, told the court that the instant application was different from the two previous ones, which the court had heard and ruled on.

He drew the attention of the court to Exhibit three attached to the application, which is a letter dated February 14, 2018 addressed to Raymond Onwuelo by Andrean T. H. Kessy, a Neurological and Spinal Surgery Consultant in London, stating detailed health status of Metuh.

According to Mr. Etiaba, the surgery on Mr. Metuh will take about ten days and requires five weeks to heal, and added that, “Even when a defendant, in a trial as this, is due for a routine medical check up, that ordinarily will grant an application such as this, but we have gone beyond that to show why the court should grant the application.

“We have asked the prosecution to make available health personnel to evaluate the heath status of the first defendant in this matter, to show our sincerity in our application for him to travel abroad on medical grounds”, he told the court.

In his submission, counsel to the second defendant, Destra Investments Limited, allegedly owned by Mr. Metuh, Tochukwu Onwugbufor, said the application deals with the exercise of the court’s discretion.

He said the granting of the application by the court will speed up the trial as Mr.  Metuh will have no reason to be absent from court for his trial.

The prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, while opposing the application submitted that the defence has failed to place sufficient materials before the court to warrant it exercise it’s discretion on the application.

He said all the exhibits the defence attached to support the affidavit are un-convincing and that none qualify as a medical report to warrant a critical look by the court to see the defendant’s complaints of ill-health.

Mr. Tahir therefore urged the court to dismiss the application for lacking in merit and consider it as an abuse of court’s process.

The matter continues on Thursday for further hearing of the case of the first defendant.

The former PDP spokesman, who is facing trial alongside his firm, Destra Investment Limited, was alleged to have received N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), prior to the 2015 presidential election.

EFCC told the court that the N400 million, released to the defendants by the erstwhile NSA, Sambo Dasuki, (rtd),‎ ‎was part of the $2.1 billion earmarked for the purchase of arms to prosecute the war against insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country.

The anti-graft agency said the fund was electronically wired from an account the ONSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to Metuh, via account No. 0040437573, which his firm operated with Diamond Bank Plc.

 

BREAKING: Olisa Metuh Arrives Court On A Stretcher

Former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, who is standing trial for alleged money laundering of N400millio today arrived the Abuja Court on a stretcher.

The money is said to be part of the funds linked with former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

The politician was stretchered into the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, following the threat by Justice Okon Abang to revoke his bail if he fails to appear in court Monday.

Details Shortly ……

 

 

Appear On Feb 5 Or Go To Jail – Court Tells Metuh

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, to be in court on February 5 or be arrested and sent to jail.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang ruled that Metuh had been absent from his trial since Monday without any lawful excuse, a development which the judge said was a sufficient reason to revoke the defendant’s bail.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, on seven counts, including an allegation of fraudulent receipt of the sum of N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014.

The charges also include the allegations that the ex-spokesperson for the PDP transacted with $2m cash which was said to be above the threshold of cash payment prescribed by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

Metuh was absent from the proceedings since Monday on the excuse that he was on admission at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State for treatment of an ailment.

On Tuesday, his lawyer, Dr. Oneychi Ikpeazu (SAN), sought an adjournment of the case till a period outside this week.

EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, opposed the application for adjournment, described the medical report of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital relied upon to ask for the adjournment, as a trash meant for the dustbin.

Tahir in opposing the application for an adjournment asked the court to revoke Metuh’s bail and send the defendant to prison form where he should be made to attend his trial.

Ruling, ‎Justice Abang said the medical report relied on by Metuh to stay away from court was fraudulently smuggled into the court’s file and aimed at forcing the court to stay proceedings in the trial indefinitely.

Justice Abang held that EFCC’s application for the revocation of Metuh’s bail deserved to be granted, but that the court decided to suspend taking such step in order to afford the defendant another opportunity “to turn over a new leaf”.

He agreed with Tahir to the effect the hospital’s letter dated January 21, 2018, indicating that Metuh had been on admission since the previous day for treatment for an ailment was sent to the court to frustrate the trial.

He queried why the medical report had to be issued barely 24 hours to the resumption of the trial on January 22.

In the absence of an explanation from defence lawyers, the judge also queried how the letter issued in Nnewi, Anambra State, could find its way to the court’s file in Abuja within 24 hours.

He said the letter was fraudulently smuggled into the court’s file and defence lawyers chose to rely on it to ask for an adjournment yet refused to disclose the identity of the person who sent the document to the court.

He noted that the “lengthy letter” by the hospital laced with many medical terms, was meant to confuse the court.

“How will the court, not being an expert in the medical field, be able to understand it, if not to confuse the court and give the impression that the ailment is serious?” the judge asked.

He ruled that, the letter having not been filed before the court through established procedure and without any indication on it linking it to the trial, the EFCC’s lawyer was right to describe it as “a trash meant for the dustbin”.

Noting that the letter failed to state the period that the defendant must be on bed rest, the judge said it could imply that the court had to adjourn the case indefinitely.

According to the judge, the application was tantamount to an application for stay of proceedings, which had been prohibited in criminal trials by the Supreme Court.

Justice Abang ruled, “That means the court will be forced to adjourned sine die (indefinitely).

“It is my humble view that this sounds like an application for stay of proceedings.

“It is not just a medical report but an application for stay of proceedings.”

He recalled that the Supreme Court had in its judgment delivered on June 9, 2017, on an appeal by Metuh prohibited stay of proceedings in a criminal trial.

He also recalled that the Supreme Court, delivering judgment in an appeal by Metuh’s firm and co-defendant, Destra Investments Limited, on January 12, 2018, had ordered the Federal Court to give the case an accelerated hearing.

He added, “Any purported medical report that will act as a stay of proceedings ought to be rejected by the court.

“The medical report was fraudulently smuggled into the court’s file.

“I agree with the learned counsel for the prosecution that it a trash meant for the dustbin. It is a useless paper only dumped on the court.”

He, however, said out of human sympathy he would consider the plea by defence lawyers by adjourning the case till February 5.

The judge said, “‎In view of the passionate plea by the learned senior counsel for the first and second defendants, I hereby suspend my decision to revoke the bail granted to the first defendant.

“I hereby give him another chance to turn over a new leaf.

“Where the situation remains the same at the next adjourned date, this court shall exercise its power of revoking the bail.

“This matter is adjourned till February 5 and 6 for continuation of trial.”

The judge also ruled that Metuh’s application for adjournment as argued on Tuesday and Wednesday had been overtaken by events since by his (Metuh’s) conduct, the court had been unable to record progress in the case since Monday.

But he granted the application by Metuh, whose ninth witness has yet to conclude his testimony, to call additional 10 witnesses.

The judge ruled that, that Metuh had engaged in different ploys to frustrate the trial and attempts, “to hijack the proceedings”.

“The first defendant has overstretched the patience of the court beyond limit in these proceedings,” the judge added.

He, therefore, ruled that the court would no longer accept any medical report from Metuh.

The judge also ruled that the court would no longer entertain any application for adjournment to enable the defendant to call any witness.

He, therefore, directed that all the remaining witnesses Metuh had to call must always be in court for all proceedings.

Both defence lawyers, Ikpeazu and Onwugbufor, thanked the judge for showing sympathy to Metuh.

Promising not to engage in anything to stall the trial, they also noted that the judge had always been giving the case an accelerated hearing before the January 12, 2018 judgment of the Supreme Court.

I Will Not Testify Unless Jonathan Appears In Court – Metuh

A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, insisted before the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday that whether or not he would testify or call additional witnesses in his ongoing trial would be dependent on what former President Goodluck Jonathan would tell the court in respect of the case.

His lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), and the counsel representing his company — Destra Investments Limited — Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), had earlier said this before the court on Monday.

But the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang had, in a ruling on Monday, dismissed the submission as unknown to law.

The judge stuck to the decision on Tuesday and ordered that Metuh would continue his defence on Wednesday, while ‎the court bailiff would make another attempt to serve Jonathan on December 11.

“Whether a party will call a witness or not cannot be predicated on the evidence of a witness yet to be called,” Justice Abang ruled again on Tuesday.

But Etiaba said he would appeal against the judge’s decisions.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had alleged in some of the seven counts preferred against Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, that the ex-PDP spokesperson fraudulently received the sum of N400m from Office of the National Security Adviser without any justification and spent the funds on the party’s and personal affairs.

Metuh was also accused of transacting with $2m cash said to be above the threshold of cash payments prescribed by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

But Metuh had insisted that both the then NSA, Sambo Dasuki, who released the sum of N400m and, and Jonathan, who allegedly authorised the payment, were required to testify in the case.

While the summons served on Dasuki had been successfully executed, following which the ex-NSA had testified in the case, the court bailiff had so far been unable to serve Jonathan personally.

On Monday, while ordering the court bailiff to make another attempt to serve Jonathan with the witness summons, the judge insisted that the trial must continue with Metuh either testifying himself or calling another witness other than the former President as his next witness.

The judge then fixed Tuesday for continuation of trial.

But at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Metuh’s lawyer, Etiaba, insisted that Metuh still wanted Jonathan to first testify before deciding on whether or not the defendant would personally testify in the case.

Jonathan May Receive Subpoena On Metuh’s Case Dec 11

A bailiff of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday gave an indication that he would, on December 11, 2017, might be able to serve former President Goodluck Jonathan the subpoena summoning him to testify as a defence witness in the trial of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh.

This was contained in an affidavit filed by the bailiff informing the court that several attempts to serve the former President in his Abuja home had failed.

The bailiff, whose affidavit was read by a court registrar during the Monday’s proceedings, stated that at the last attempt to serve Jonathan, a guard said the former President, said to have travelled abroad, would only be available on December 11.

Reading from the bailiff’s affidavit, the registrar said the bailiff was asked to return to the residence in the afternoon of December 11 to serve the former President.

In response, Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), said he, the lead defence counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), and Metuh himself, had received threats to their lives following their move to have Jonathan summoned to testify in the case.

But he said the threat would not yield to the threat as they would insist Jonathan testify in the case.

Etiaba said, “This subpoena is one that has generated quite a lot of controversy, not just to our client but to myself.

“The threat goes to the life of the first defendant, myself and Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu.

“This will not make us change our mind as to whether His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, will come and testify or not. But we shall only plead with this honourable court to allow the make another attempt on December 11, 2017 at serving him with the subpoena.”

Breaking News: Jonathan Dares Court, Refuses To Appear As Witness

A new twist has again greeted the ongoing trial of former Peoples Democratic Party Spokesperson, Olisa Metuh as former President Goodluck Jonathan refused to honour order of Justice Okon Abang.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, gave an order summoning the former president to appear before him today.

The summon which was in line with a ruling of the Court of Appeal in Abuja that faulted earlier refusal to grant Metuh’s request for subpoena to be issued against Dasuki.

However, reasons for the ex-president’s absence from court could not be ascertained.

Metuh is currently facing charges for allegedly receiving the sum of N400m from former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) in the build up to the 2015 presidential election.

Justice Abang said: “Indeed, at the close of business, yesterday (Monday) being October 23, 2017, precisely at about 3.59 pm, the registrar forwarded to the court in chamber a subpoena to compel former President Goodluck Jonathan to appear in court to testify at the instance of the first defendant (Metuh).

Metuh Offers To Return N400m Loot To “Support Anti-Corruption War”

Embattled spokesperson of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, has today said that he is ready to return the N400 million received from the office of the National Security Advider during the Jonathan’s administration.

This was made available in a statement by his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), on Thursday. Recall that the PDP spokesperson is being tried for allegedly receiving N400 million of government arms money.

Metuh who said that dialogue has been on ground at getting his neck off the anti-graft noose also said that talks with the ministry of Justice, the EFCC and other relevant anti-graft bodies are in place.

Stating the decision of the spokesperson, Ikpeazu said, “In the light of the circumstances regarding the case of our client, Chief Olisa Metuh with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), we want to explain the reasons for our client’s proposal to refund the N400 million released to him by former President Goodluck Jonathan, and which was expended on a project approved by the ex-president on national issues relating to his presidency and the federal government at that time,” the statement read.

“We want to restate that at the time the money was released to him after his presentation to the ex-president, our client had no knowledge of the source, a fact that is now obvious from the evidence of the prosecution and defence witnesses. Our client had every cause to believe that the money was from the ex-president to whom he made presentation, received directives and rendered report and accounts accordingly.

“When the matter first came up and Chief Metuh was invited to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in December 2015, he requested to know the source of the money and expressed his readiness to make refunds if it was from government coffers, not minding that the money had been expended as directed by the former President. Officials at ONSA never got back to him as they promised, until his arrest by the EFCC in January 2016.

“It was however while in court that a document was brought regarding the source of the money and since then, our client has made manifest his willingness to refund the money and has indeed approached his family, friends and associates to mobilise funds to refund the entire N400 million to the government regardless of the fact that the money had been expended based on the directives of the former president and that part of the money had been recovered from one of the prosecution witnesses.”

“Our client occupied no government office. His commitment and dedication to his official duties have been confirmed by even prosecution witnesses. In this whole saga, he has been an unfortunate victim of circumstances. His refunding the money therefore goes to show his support for the anti-corruption war as well as serve as a testament to his sincerity, integrity and honesty in this matter,” read the statement.

“There is no doubt that the prosecution has considerably embarked on some expenses in the course of this case. It is hoped that by not discounting the sum already recovered, whatever cost so far incurred would have been defrayed. By this, a critical objective of recovery of funds would no doubt be achieved.

“It is pertinent to restate our client’s continued support for the anti-corruption campaign, which is necessary to ensure probity in the affairs of Nigeria to the extent that it is conducted within the rule of law.”

Jonathan Was Seen As An Ineffective President, Metuh’s Witness Tells Court

A defence Witness, Anthony Okeke, in the ongoing trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, told an Abuja Federal High Court on Monday that former President, Goodluck Jonathan was seen as ineffective and unserious.

Okeke, a lawyer and member of the PDP served the party in several capacities both at the zonal and national level, among which is the publicity sub-committee of the 2011 Presidential election.

He also served the party as its acting National Publicity Secretary between June 20, 2013 till September of the same year.

Okeke in his evidence said the former President did all he could to launder his battered image.

He said, ” The President of the party who is the leader may direct the disbursement of funds.

“There was the impression that Jonathan was an ineffective and unserious President. He needed a lot of consultancy and media outfits to change his image.

“Jonathan was determined to do everything possible to launder his battered image.

“After Metuh came on board, there was an improvement on Jonathan’s battered image.

Okeke said prior to the 2011 Presidential election, there was serious paucity of funds, adding that the party was owing so many media houses.

Okeke revealed that he did not handover a rich treasury to Metuh.

“At the end of my tenure, I did not leave any money for the first defendant,” Okeke said.

Armsgate: Metuh Was Paid N400m – Okupe

Doyin Okupe, the erstwhile Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, on Wednesday, appeared as the third defence witness (DW3) for Olisa Metuh, the embattled national spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP who is standing trial over his alleged role in the infamous $2.1 billion arms deal, involving the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).

Metuh is being prosecuted alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited on a 7-count charge before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,

He is accused of allegedly receiving N400million (four hundred million naira) from former NSA, Col. Dasuki (retd).

At an earlier sitting on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, the defence had present Ifeanyi Odenigbo, a consultant with Q-time Nigeria Limited, who had told the court that, there was a remittance of N450million from the Office of the NSA to Destra Nig Limited; the source of which he said was not made known to him.

At the resumed sitting today, Okupe while being led in evidence by Metuh’s counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, narrated how he was part of the meeting in which Metuh made a presentation on what could be done to launder the image of the then president and that of the PDP.

“After the meeting, the president said he will make a directive for Metuh to be mobilised with funds to carry out the project. The next day, Metuh called me to tell me that his account had been credited with N400m”, Okupe said.

Under cross examination by counsel to EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, Okupe, admitted that, government institutions and agencies are not part of the organs of the party.

When shown one of the exhibits (e-payment mandate) from the Office of the NSA, detailing the transfer of the sum N400m to Destra Investment Limited, Okupe claimed he does not understand the document neither does he know what it is all about.

Thereafter, Ikpeazu sought for an adjournment on the grounds that Metuh has a health challenge.

Consequently, Justice Abang adjourned to May 19, 2016 for continuation of defence.

Lai Mohammed’s N500m Libel Suit Against Metuh Moved To Mediation Court

Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of an Ikeja High Court on Wednesday ordered that the N500 million libel suit filed by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, against Mr Olisa Metuh, the PDP’s spokesman, should go to mediation court.

“The file should be taken to the Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, Prompt Administrator to set the ADR in motion.

“Now that pleadings have been closed, seven days from today please head to ADR Centre for mediation of this dispute,” Ipaye ruled.

Earlier at the proceedings, Metuh’s lawyer, Mr U.A. Otoahine, filed two applications dated April 25 which were granted by the court.

He said: “My Lord, the first application is requesting for an extension of time to file the statement of defence and originating processes.

“The second application is seeking an extension of time to file a counter-affidavit.”

The judge, however, refused to hear the application brought by counsel to the minister, Mr. Wahab Shittu that the case should be set down for trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mohammed, a former spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had on Oct. 12, 2015 filed a suit against Metuh, accusing him of publishing libelous materials against him.

Mohammed alleged that Metuh had falsely accused him of embezzling funds meant to build a fence at an airport in one of the South-west states under the control of APC.

The publication also alleged that Mohammed had obtained funds to supply ambulances to the South-west state, but failed to do so.

The minister is demanding a compensation of N500 million on account of the alleged false publications against him.

Justice Ipaye adjourned the case to June 13 for a progress report from the ADR centre.