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How PDP’s Metuh was sent to Kuje prison

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, remanded the ‎embattled National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Olisa Metuh in prison custody‎.

Metuh who is answering to a seven-count criminal charge that was preferred against him by the ‎Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, ‎will remain in prison till Tuesday when the ‎court will determine whether or not he should be released on bail.

Meantime, the PDP spokesman who ‎is facing trial alongside his firm, Destra Investment Limited, ‎over alleged N400m fraud, yesterday, pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.

‎The charge against Metuh borders on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and criminal diversion of public funds.

‎Specifically, EFCC, alleged that the accused person had in November, 2014, received the sum of N400m from the erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd.

The fund which was withdrawn from an account the Office of the NSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, was allegedly transferred to Metuh through account no. 0040437573, which Destra Investments Limited operated with Diamond Bank Plc.

The anti-graft agency ‎told the court that though the fund was siphoned to boost campaign activities of the PDP, it said that Metuh diverted most of it to his personal use.

‎It alleged that Metuh converted ‎part of the money to one Million US Dollars which he used for his personal business.‎

Besides, Metuh was alleged to have transferred the sum of N21.7m to another chieftain of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih.‎

‎The charge ‎marked ‎FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2016, was signed by the Assistant Director, Legal & Prosecution Department of the EFCC, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir.‎‎

‎Metuh had after his arraignment yesterday, urged trial Justice Okon Abang to grant him bail pending hearing and determination of the case against him.

‎He made the oral bail application through his lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN.

Ikpeazu, SAN, who anchored the request on the provision of section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015‎, contended that the offence allegedly committed by his client is a bailable one.

He further placed reliance on section 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to insist that under the law, his client ought to be deemed innocent until ingredients of the charge against him ‎are established.

Ikpeazu equally relied on the decided case-law in Abiola vs FRN, 2005, and argued that the court had powers to exercise its discretion in favour of Metuh, based on an oral bail request.

‎”My lord we do not intend to go outside the law, but to rest the application on the constitutional right of the defendant. We are not going beyond the charge against him, so the issue of bringing an affidavit does not arise”, Ikpeazu added.

‎However, EFCC, yesterday, vehemently opposed Metuh’s oral bail application.

The commission, through its lawyer ‎Sylvanus Tahir, maintained that Metuh should have filed ‎a formal bail application.

The prosecuting agency argued that the nature of the charge against the accused person was not such that he could orally persuade the court to okay his release from detention, saying he ought to have deposed an affidavit in support of a written bail application.

“It is our position that the accused person cannot orally move this court to grant him bail. As it stands, he has not placed any material that could sway the court to exercise its discretion one way or the other”, Tahir argued.‎

At that juncture, the defence counsel pleaded the court to allow his client to remain in the custody of the EFCC pending the determination of his bail, an application that was opposed by the prosecuting counsel.

In a short ruling, Justice Abang agreed with the EFCC, even as he directed Metuh to file a formal bail application.‎

‎Consequently, the court remanded the accused person in prison custody.

Justice Abang further directed Metuh’s lawyer to file and serve the bail application within six hours from the time the ruling was delivered yesterday, just as he also gave EFCC 24 hours to file its objection to the application if it has any.

‎Besides, the court, ‎yesterday, fixed January 25 to commence full-blown hearing on the substantive charge against Metuh.‎

‎It will be recalled that Metuh had been in the custody of the EFCC since January 5 when he was arrested.
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‎Already, the anti-graft agency has lined up 18 witnesses that will testify against him and his firm during the trial.‎

Among those to testify in the case are representatives of the Office of the NSA, representatives of Diamond bank, Access Bank, Sterling Bank, First Bank, Heritage Bank, Nneka Nicole Ararume, Alhaji Abba Dabo, Mallam Kabiru Ibrahim, Olayinka Badejo Okusanya of CMC comet, Ahmadu Umar of Kwalaye Investment Limited, Theophilus Musa of Capital Fields Investment and six EFCC investigators.

‎The court had on Thursday, adjourned till January 20 to hear a motion challenging his continued detention in EFCC custody.

Justice Abang adjourned hearing on Metuh’s fundamental right enforcement suit on a day the EFCC insisted that his detention was sequel to a valid court order.‎

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Jacobs, SAN, had maintained that the commission obtained a remand order against Metuh in line with provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

Jacobs said the ACJA, 2015, permitted the EFCC to detain an accused person pending completion of investigation into criminal allegations against such person, so far there is a valid approval from a competent court.

“It is arrant nonsense for anybody or group to say that the suspect is being detained illegally for political reasons. EFCC is established by law and as such, cannot take the laws into its own hand. The truth is that there is a valid and subsisting court order that permitted the detention of the man.

“The order was issued by the court based on the avalanche of documentary evidence that was placed before it”, Jacobs added.

The EFCC lawyer told the court on Thursday that the commission would need time to study Metuh’s fundamental right enforcement suit which he said was only served on the anti-graft agency Wednesday morning.

Arguing that EFCC have five days to respond to Me‎tuh’s suit, Jacobs, persuaded Justice Abang to adjourn the matter which he said was not ripe for hearing.

Some of the charges against Metuh ‎read: “That you, Olisa Metuh and Destra Investment Limited, on or about the 24th November, 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. Account No. 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 NSA (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.‎

“That you, Olisa Metuh and Destra Investment Limited on or about the 24th November, 2014 in Abuja converted the sum of N400m paid into the account of Destra Investment Limited with Diamond Bank Plc, Account No: 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.‎

“That you, Olisa Metuh and Destra Investments Limited on or about the 24th November, 2014 in Abuja, did retain the sum of N400m on behalf of the Peoples Democratic Party of its campaign activities by concealing the said sum in your account with Diamond Bank Plc, when you reasonably ought to have known that such fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd), the then National Security Adviser, (to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption), and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 17(b) of the same Act.‎

“The you, Olisa Metuh and Destra Investments Limited on or about the 2nd Dec. 2014 in Abuja did make a cash payment through your agent one Nneka Nicole Ararume to one Kabiru Ibrahim, a non financial initiation to the tune of $1,000,000.00 USD (One Million United States Dollars) only and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.‎

“That you, Olisa Metuh and Destra Investments Limited on or about the 2nd Dec. 2014 in Abuja, did make a cash payment through your agent one Nneka Nicole Ararume to one Sie Iyenome of Capital Field Investment, to the tune of $1,000,000.00 USD (One Million United States Dollars) only and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.‎

“That you, Olisa Metuh and Destra and Destra Investments Limited on or about the 4th Dec. 2014 in Abuja, did transfer the sum of N21,776,000.00 (Twenty-One Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand Naira) being part of the sum of N400m which directly represented 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) to Chief Anthony Anenih and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act”.


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