…Says he has case to answer
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
This is not the best of times for the bed-ridden former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, as the Supreme Court, yesterday held that he has a criminal case to answer.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgement by a five-man panel of Justices, said there was merit in the seven-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against Metuh and his firm Destra Investment Limited.
EFCC alleged that Metuh had before the 2015 Presidential election, received N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, without executing any contract.
The agency alleged that the fund was electronically wired from an account that ONSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to Metuh, via account no. 0040437573, which his firm operated with Diamond Bank Plc.
It told the court that the fund which was released to Metuh and his firm by detained former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, was part of about $2.1billion earmarked for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency in the North East.
Besides, the prosecution which has already closed its case after it called eight witnesses that testfied before the court, also alleged that Metuh was involved in an illicit transaction that involved the exchange of $2million.
However, Metuh who has also opened his defence to the charge, was last Monday, brought before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court in an ambulance.
The embattled ex-PDP spokesman was wheeled into the courtroom in a stretcher by a team of medical experts from the National Hospital, Abuja, even as his lawyers persuaded trial Justice Okon Abang to suspend further hearing on his case, till March 14.
Metuh’s bid to finally stop his trial failed yesterday, as the Supreme Court dashed his hopes, saying he should continue his defence before the lower court.
The apex court panel unanimously affirmed the May 25, 2016, judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which earlier held that Metuh had a case to answer.
The appellate court had dismissed appeals Metuh and his firm lodged before it for being incompetent, even as it upheld the March 9, 2016 ruling of Justice Abang that dismissed a ‘no-case-submission’ that was made by the defendants who insisted that EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case to warrant their prosecution.
Meantime, the Supreme Court panel, held that the appellate court acted rightly when it dismissed Metuh’s appeal on the ground that he failed to comply with basic constitutional requirement.
It concurred with the lower court that Metuh and his company failed to obtain leave as required by the Constitution when filing an appeal against an interlocutory decision, on the grounds of mixed law and facts, before the notice of appeal was filed