By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami to wade into Chief Metuh’s court case with a view to granting him medical leave abroad.
Metuh, a former National Publicity Secretary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is currently standing trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja for financial corruption to the tune of N400 million.
He was wheeled into the court room in a stretcher at the resumed session on Monday.
Considering his deteriorating health, the federal lawmakers through a motion by Hon. Chris Azobuogu (Anambra State) titled “Motion on the urgent need to save the life of Chief Olisa Metuh”, appealed for the intervention of the AGF.
Moving the motion, Azubogu said that the life of his constituent was in danger.
He said: “The House notes that chapter IV Section 33 (1) of the 1999 constititon of the fedeeal republic of Nigeria as (amended) statesd and – quote “Every Pearson has a right to life, save in the execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a Criminal offense of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”.
“Further notes that the life of Olisa Metuh who happens to be my constituent is under grace danger but presently he is facing trial on charges of money laundering an offence if convicted does not prescribe death as the penalty.
“Further concerned that Olisa Metuh traveled to Nnewi some weeks back to attend to some family issues and was rushed to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi on Emergency due to complications on the same Spinal Cord injury. While on admission, the Court refused the medical report requesting to be given enough time by the hospital to complete their investigation on him which prompted his transfer to University of Nigeria Teaching Hopsital Enugu before the National Hospital, Abuja in Ambulance to enable him appear for trial on the Order of the Court.
“Worried that he is on trial but not yet convicted and his health is deteriorating. Further denial for him to receive appropriate medical attention overseas could cause him his life or permanent paralysis since presently he is bed ridden.
“Further worried that yesterday 5th February, 2018, he appeared in court on a stretcher from the National Hospital on the Order of the Court against medical recommendation considering the grave danger he is going through.
“Aware that it is only the living that can answer to charges of criminal offense and Olisa Metuh, a Lawyer I know will not become a fugitive because of the charges he’s facing if granted a leave to obtain treatment for a given period of time and come back to continue with his trial since he is already on bail and there is surety.
“Further aware that the same court has granted some other persons on similar charges leave to travel overseas for medical attention but has consistently denied the request by Olisa Metuh. And it is perceived as different strokes for different folks without contesting the discretion of the court”.
But hardly had he finished moving the motion than the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Emmanuel Oker-Jev frowned against the motion.
He cited Order 9(1)5 of the House rules which warned the House not to interfere with judicial processes.
Acknowledging that Metuh’s condition in a stretcher was pitiable, Oker-Jev noted that if Metuh was not satisfied with the decision of the Federal High Court on his quest to go abroad for medical care, “he should go to a higher court and not come to parliament.”
Reacting, another member of the House, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema who is the Deputy Minority Leader said that they were not interfering but appealing to the government to intervene in the matter.
On this note, Hon. Edward Pwajok, SAN, from Plateau State said the House cannot compel the court to take any decision.
He however suggested an amendment to the motion, stating that “in the interest of human right, we can urge the Attorney General” as the chief law officer of the country to intervene.
His suggestion eventually scaled through as the House adopted it.
The House subsequently mandated its Committees on Justice and Human Right to follow up and report back to it within two weeks.