Metuh regains freedom
Court admits payment vouchers into evidence
Adjourns trial till Feb 4
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— More revelations emerged, yesterday, on how the embattled National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, spent part of the N400 million he received from the erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, (retd).
Metuh regains freedom
Meanwhile, Chief Metuh has regained his freedom, having met his bail conditions as stipulated by a Federal High Court, in Abuja.
Metuh was arrested and detained by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegations of diversion of security funds and money laundering.
At the resumed hearing on the matter, yesterday, a witness brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that the PDP spokesman used N77.5 million to sponsor media campaigns for the re-election of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Badejo-Okusanya told the court that he was the Managing Director of CMC Connect, a public relations agency he said handled media consultancy jobs for the PDP, prior to the 2015 general elections.
The witness, who testified as the fifth prosecution witness, PW-5, said the N77.5 million was paid to the PR firm through the bank account of Metuh’s company, Destra Investment Limited, which is the second defendant before the court.
Insisting that the fund was released for the agency to ‘launder the image’ of ex-President Jonathan to the electorate, the witness told the court that CMC Connect used the bulk of it to pay for advertorials in four television stations.
The EFCC, through the witness, tendered into evidence vouchers addressed to Destra Investment Limited for payment by CMC Connect to African Independent Television, AIT; Nigerian Television Authority, NTA; Channels TV; and Silverbird Television, STV.
Badejo-Okusanya told the court that before his firm was hired, Metuh helped him to get audience with ex-President Jonathan, who he said gave his approval after listening to his presentation.
He said: “When Metuh became National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, I met with him, and he said he liked the work we did for the party in the past, but unfortunately that the party did not have money to pay us to continue with the work.
“He promised to compensate us whenever an opportunity arose. This was in 2012. Early November 2014, I got a call from him and he asked me where I was. I told him I was in Lagos. He said he wanted me to come to Abuja to attend a meeting.
“When I arrived in Abuja and met him at his house, he drove me to the Presidential Villa where we met a meeting in progress. At the meeting was former President Goodluck Jonathan; his Deputy, Namadi Sambo; former PDP chairman, Adamu Mu’azu; former Senate President, David Mark; Reuben Abati, Alkali Rufai and Doyin Okupe.
“Although, the meeting was in progress, I was able to pick that it had to do with how to win the 2015 presidential election.
“In the course of the meeting, Metuh introduced me as the communication consultant that worked for the party before. He then asked me to speak. I proceeded to speak what I considered very frankly with the President.
“I felt it was very important to let him know the critical things he had to do to get the nation right. He asked me a couple of questions himself, and I specifically remembered telling him that there was a disconnect between his government and the people.
“He took everything in good faith and asked us to go. The next evening, Metuh called me and said that it seemed like I made an impression on the President. He asked me to coordinate the media campaign plan for the PDP presidential election.
“So, we set about the work with a plan. I was meeting Metuh severally on the ideas we had on how we could position the party in the minds of Nigerians.
“We got the first payment from him on December 1, 2014 which was N7.5 million, a cheque he issued in my name and I transferred the money to my company’s account. This cheque was from Destra Investment Limited.
“On December 15, 2015, he did a transfer from Destra Investment Limited of N70 million to our company. By middle of December we had started the work.
“The first batch of work we did was to get Nigerians to appreciate the role of the military in the fight against Boko Haram. We also made advert placements in newspapers, radio and television.”
Nothing unusual about the transaction
However, while being cross-examined by Metuh’s lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Ogunsanya, who maintained that he had been in the PR job for the past 27 years, told the court that there was nothing unusual about his transaction with the defendants.
He said his firm, in line with the terms of the contract, monitored media contents on daily basis and reported to the PDP any publication that concerned the party, until the 2015 general election took place.
The witness said his agency would have terminated the contract if it had perceived any wrongdoing.
Other documents the court admitted into evidence, yesterday included bundle of documents with various newspaper publications.
Meanwhile, the EFCC also produced a Bureau de Change operator, Mr. Kabiru Ibrahim, who helped Metuh to change $1 million to its Naira equivalent, and transferred same to his company’s account, to testify before the court, yesterday.
Ibrahim told the court that it was the PW-1, Nneka Ararume, that sold the $1 million to him sometime in December 2014, and asked him to transfer the Naira equivalent which amounted to N183 million to the account of Destra Investment Limited.
The witness, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr, Sylvanus Tahir, insisted that there was no limit to the amount of dollars he could buy or sell, saying he did not transact the business with Metuh but with Nneka who he said gave him the account number of the 2nd defendant.
However, Justice Okon Abang adjourned further hearing on the case till next Thursday.