By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA- The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on Wednesday, dismissed the appeal the embattled National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh lodged before it.
The appellate court said it was satisfied that Metuh has a case to answer pertaining to the N400million that was transferred from Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, into his company account.
In their unanimous judgment, a three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court led by Justice Abdul Aboki, held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, established a prima-facie case to warrant explanations from the defendant.
The appellate court held that trial Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja was right when he dismissed Metuh’s no-case-submission.
“From evidence adduced before the trial court, can it be said that the 1st defendant has no case to answer?
“The case of the prosecution has raised several questions that only the defendant can answer.
It is evident that from testimonies of the eight witnesses called by the prosecution that issues of fact were raised to warrant explanations from the appellant.
“There is need for the defendant to either accept or deny the allegations against him”, the appellate court held.
Justice Aboki who read the lead verdict, maintained that the prosecution having closed its case, the burden of defence shifted to the appellant who he said is “entitled to give explanations as to what actually transpired”.
“There is no merit in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed”, Justice Aboki held.
Earlier, the appellate court upheld the preliminary objection EFCC filed against the appeal.
It held that the notice of appeal was incompetent considering that the defendant failed to obtain leave of court before the appeal was filed.
“The appellant is hereby ordered to proceed to enter his defence to the seven-count charge against him”, the appellate court held.
Metuh who is facing trial alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited had gone before the appellate court to challenge the dismissal of a no-case submission he entered before the high court.
He equally challenged the refusal of trial Justice Abang to hands-off his case despite allegations of bias that were raised against him.
Metuh and his firm lodged two separate appeals against Justice Abang.
The appellants prayed the appellate court to quash the charge against them on the premise that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie criminal case against them.
They further wanted the appellate court to hold that trial Justice Abang erred in law when he not only dismissed their no-case-submission, but also ordered them to open their defence to the charge.