By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, told an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, that the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, destroyed his “confessional statement” upon realizing that it directly linked former President Goodluck Jonathan to the alleged illegal diversion of funds meant for the procurement of arms.
The anti-graft agency made the disclosure after it re-arraigned the embattled spokesman of the PDP on an amended three-count charge bordering on destruction of evidence, mischief and obstruction of justice, contrary to sections 166 and 326 of the Penal Code Act, and section 38(2) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
At the resumed hearing on the matter yesterday, EFCC brought one of its lead investigators, Mr. Junaid S’aid, to testify before the Chief Judge of the High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello who is presiding over Metuh’s trial.
The witness who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, told the court that he is a member of a Special Task Force Team that received and investigated the petition that led to the arrest of the erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd.
He said the petition which was filed from the office of the NSA in January this year, alleged that Metuh, through his company, Destra Investment Limited, received N400million from Dasuki.
The fund was said to have been electronically transferred from an account the Office of the NSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, into account no. 0040437573, which Metuh’s firm opened with Diamond Bank Plc.
The witness told the court that investigation by his team revealed that the transfer was done without any contract approval.
He said upon the realization that there was no basis for the transaction, his team, on January 5, paid an unscheduled visit to the residence of Metuh at Prince and Princess Estate, Abuja, and subsequently invited him for questioning.
S’aid told the court that Metuh honoured the invitation and was interrogated by six EFCC operatives, namely, Ibrahim Musa, Michael Wetkas, Bello Umar, David Nkpe, Bello Adama and Eucharia Ibrahim, after which he volunteered a statement to the commission. He maintained that Metuh had in his statement, disclosed that the N400million he received from the NSA had the approval of ex-President Jonathan.
The witness said: “My Lord, when he concluded writing his statement which was on four sheets of the EFCC statement form, I collected the statement and read over it, I then handed the statement over to my superiors Musa and Wetkas.
“When I was handing over the statement, the defendant said he was surprised that he had written that much and that he felt he had given too much information.
“Because of the comment, I was worried so I gave him the statement sheets, one after the other for endorsement. After endorsing the first and second sheets, to my surprise, the defendant tore the third sheet.
“My lord, he suddenly tore the statement sheet into pieces, in great shock and surprise I stood up, I asked him why he did what he did?
“He replied that he did that because he was no longer willing to give the information on that statement sheet. I then requested the pieces of the statement, he declined and attempted to put them in his pocket, I then cautioned him and told him to respect himself but he insisted that he was going to dispose the torn sheet.
“I persuaded him to handover the torn sheet and brought one plain paper before him, he poured the pieces on the plain sheet, my other colleagues were there looking at us in surprise as well.
“He furthered tore them into pieces, saying only in the movies would this be recovered. At that point I poured the pieces in the commission’s transparent polythene bag as exhibit and made entry of the incident into the EFCC’s incident duty station diary as well as EFCC’s pocket notebook.
“Later in the day he requested to make additional statement, which he made, wrote his name and signed but declined to make any other statement on the torn paper.”
The witness maintained that the third sheet that was destroyed by Metuh revealed that he received the money from Dasuki to boost campaign activities of the PDP with a view to ensuring the re-election of ex-President Jonathan in the 2015 general election.
Metuh was also alleged to have admitted that he used part of the fund to take care of his personal needs.
Meantime, the court, yesterday, admitted into evidence, EFCC’s incident duty station diary, EFCC’s pocket notebook and the pieces of Metuh’s torn statement.
Following demand by the defence lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Justice Bello, yesterday, directed EFCC to produce the original copy of the full statement of the witness.
Ikpeazu who noted that the witness never mentioned the issue of destruction of statement in the entire statement he made on oath, challenged the fact that the copy of the statement the prosecuting counsel made available to him yesterday was photocopied.
Further hearing on the case has been adjourned till March 16.
Metuh who is equally answering to another seven-count charge before the federal high court in Abuja, was earlier granted bail by Justice Bello to the tune of N300m with two sureties in like sum.