Court Orders Metuh to Appear on Feb. 5 or Risk Jail
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on Thursday, January 25, 2018 threatened to revoke the bail granted Olisa Metuh, a former National spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should he fail to appear in court on February 5, 2018 to stand his trial.
He has been absent in court since Monday without lawful excuse, a development the judge said “is enough to revoke his bail”.
Metuh is standing trial alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited, on a 7-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N400million, a sum he allegedly collected from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, ahead of the 2015 general election.
The offence breaches 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”.
Metuh’s counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, on Monday told the court that the defendant was on admission at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State for an undisclosed ailment. He tendered a medical report dated January 21, 2018 to substantiate his claim, and asked for further adjournment.
The prosecution who had closed its case almost two years ago believed that Metuh’s continued absence in court was ploy to delay trial and frustrate the cause of justice.
Sylvanus Tahir, counsel to the EFCC, on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 made an oral application, urging the court to revoke the bail it granted Metuh and cause him to be reporting from the prison custody to stand his trial.
According to Tahir, Metuh had been adopting various means to frustrate his trial.
Tahir’s application was however opposed by Metuh’s counsel, Oneychi Ikpeazu (SAN), who argued that health matters are issues that are beyond human control.
In his ruling today, 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.
Apparently miffed by the development, the judge held that “the 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 that 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.
The judge queried why the medical report had to be issued barely 24 hours to the resumption of the trial on January 22.
The judge also wondered how the letter purportedly issued in Nnewi, Anambra State, could find its way to the court’s file in Abuja within 24 hours!
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