Alleged fraud: Court tables trial, jail before Metuh

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 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 (EFCC) 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.

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