Alleged N400m fraud: Olisa Metuh has case to answer – Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, had a case to answer in respect of the money laundering charges involving the sums of N400m and $2m instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The composite judgment of a five-man panel of the  Supreme Court on the separate appeals filed by Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, unanimously affirmed the May 25, 2016 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

The Court of Appeal had dismissed the appeals for being incompetent and went on to uphold the March 9, 2016  ruling of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissing the defendants’ no-case submission.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal, which was affirmed by the apex court on Friday had held that the appeals by the appellants failed to comply with the constitutional requirement.

According to the Court of Appeal, Metuh and his company failed to first obtain the leave of either the trial court or the appellate court before filing a notice of appeal as required by the constitution when filing an appeal against an interlocutory decision, on the grounds of mixed law and facts.

The Court of Appeal had held that the appellants, having failed in that regard, their appeals were incompetent and the court lacked jurisdiction to hear them.

Justice Dattijo Mohammed headed the five-man panel of the apex court and prepared the leading judgment of the Supreme Court, which affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal on Friday.

In Justice Mohammed’s judgment, which was read on his behalf by Justice Ejembi Eko, the apex court resolved all the three issues raised in the appeals against the appellants.

The apex court held that as much as the Court of Appeal lacked the jurisdiction to hear the appeals, the Supreme Court too could not entertain the appeal arising from the incompetent appeals before the court below.

Affirming the decision of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court ruled, “By section 233 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), appeals from the Court of Appeal to this court lies only against the decisions of that court.

“Such decisions evolve from the Court of Appeal upon the exercise of jurisdiction over appeals from the court below.

“Where the Court of Appeal lacks the necessary jurisdiction, in the first place, to hear and determine the appeal before it, such as in the instant case, no decision of the court against the competent appeal lies to this court.

“It is for that reason I strike out the incompetent appeal and affirm the judgment of the lower court below.”

Other members of the panel – Justices Kudirat Kekeree-Ekun, John Okoro, Chima Nweze and Ejembi Eko –  agreed with the leading judgment.

The EFCC is prosecuting Metuh and his firm, Destra Investments Limited, on seven counts of money laundering involving allegations of receiving N400m fraudulently from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014.

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

Metuh, who had been complaining of ill health as he continued his defence before the Federal High Court, was brought to court on a stretcher on February 5, 2018.

 

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