October 26, 2017

Justice Abang gives bailiff 5 days to serve summons on Jonathan


Jonathan and Metuh

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, gave a bailiff of the court five days to serve former President Goodluck Jonathan with a copy of the subpoena issued to compel him to appear as a witness in the trial of erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh.

Jonathan and Metuh

The bailliff was directed to effect personal service of the summon on Jonathan at his Abuja residence.

Similarly, Justice Abang asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to persuade the Department of State Service, DSS, to produce former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), who is currently in its custody, to enable him to also appear before the court to give evidence in the trial.

The court had on the strength of an application by Metuh, who is facing seven-count corruption charge alongside his firm, Destra Investment Limited, summoned both Jonathan and Dasuki to appear before it yesterday.

Metuh had in defence of the charge against him, maintained that the former President and ex-NSA, were “very vital and crucial witnesses” in the matter.

However, both men were absent in court at the resumed proceeding on the case, yesterday, despite the two separate subpoenas against them.

Whereas Justice Abang noted that Dasuki had been duly served with a copy of the subpoena as directed by the Court of Appeal  in Abuja, Jonathan, on the other hand, had yet to be served.

The court said it would, therefore, not blame the ex-President for not appearing in court yesterday, stressing that singular attempt by the bailiff to personally serve him the subpoena was not sufficient.

Justice Abang said in the absence of Jonathan and Dasuki, it would be difficult   for the court to make progress in Metuh’s trial.

He directed that Metuh’s lawyer should apply for Jonathan to be served through substituted means, in any event that the bailiff failed to reach him personally.

Justice Abang held that under section 36(6) of the 1999 Costitution, the former President and Dasuki remained witnesses that are desired to give evidence in the trial.

Abang said: “The bailiff is given five days from today to effect personal service of the subpoena on his excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Under section 124 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the bailiff is an agent of the 1st defendant for the purpose of substituted service of the process on Dr. Jonathan.

“This is because the 1st defendant elected to call him as a witness in this matter and not the court.

“In the light of the above, the matter will again be adjourned at the instance of the 1st defendant (Metuh) to enable the subpoenaed witnesses to be in court.

“This case is adjourned to October 31 for the subpoenaed witnesses to give evidence at the instance of the 1st defendant”, Justice Abang held.

I didn’t say Jonathan must appear before me —Abang

Earlier in his ruling, the judge denied reports that he had insisted that Jonathan must appear before him.

He said: “It is on record that it was the 1st defendant that applied to compel his excellency, Dr. Jonathan and Dasuki to appear in this matter. The court did not on its own order them to be in court.

“It is contemptuous to misrepresent court proceedings. I did not ever on my own compel Dasuki and Jonathan to testify in this matter. 1st defendant applied for subpoena and in exercise of my statutory duty, I signed.”