By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – There was pandemonium at the Federal High Court in Abuja this morning, as former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, fell down and collapsed while on his way to the dock for continuation of his trial.
As at the time of filing this report, Metuh is still on the floor, even as trial Justice Okon Abang insisted on proceeding with his trial despite the condition of the defendant.
Angered by the decision of the Judge, Metuh’s team of lawyers led by Mr. Emeka Etiaba, SAN, pulled out of the case.
Etiaba said he could not continue with the matter with his client lying lifeless on the floor with no attempt to resuscitate him since the court was in session.
The former PDP spokesman who is defending a seven-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against him and his firm, Destra Investment Limited, dropped on the floor shortly after his case was called up.
Trial Justice Abang thereafter asked officials of the court to explain what happened to him.
The three officials, narrated that Metuh who was heading to the dock, suddenly landed on the floor while his aide was attempting to draw his attention to directive by the court that he should remain where he was seated.
Metuh’s lawyer, Etiaba, SAN, while announcing his withdrawal, said his client was obviously ill as confirmed by medical personnel of the high court.
Etiaba decried that though Justice Abang refused to put him on record, he said the whole world was watching.
Not perturbed by Etiaba’s submissions and withdrawal, Justice Abang ordered the defendant to produce his eleventh witness.
Already, Metuh has gone before the Court of Appeal in Abuja to challenge refusal of the trial Judge to allow him to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Metuh who is facing trial over allegation that he had through his firm, received N400million prior to the 2015 presidential election, had on March 14, applied to be allowed to seek medical attention in the United Kingdom, lamenting that he has lost sensation in his lower limbs.
Metuh said he was suffering from spinal cord related ailment.
His lawyer told the court that Metuh’s health had deteriorated badly, a situation he said would require urgent medical attention from his doctors in London.
He tendered as an exhibit, a letter from one Dr. Adrian T. H. Kasey, a Neurosurgeon at Wellington Hospital in London, which he said emphasized the need for Metuh to be treated urgently.
The former PDP spokesman predicated his application on section 33(5) and 6(b) of the 1999 Constitution.
However, trial Justice Okon Abang turned down the request, insisting that the former PDP spokesman failed to persuade the court that he was indeed suffering from a life-threatening ailment as he claimed.
Besides, Justice Abang accused Metuh of deliberately frustrating his trial with the same application the court had refused three times.
He said the trial court had become functus-officio to grant such request to the defendant who he said had yet to appeal previous rulings that were delivered against him on the same subject matter.
The court further barred Metuh from tendering any medical report before it, pending the conclusion of his trial.
EFCC alleged that Metuh received the N400m 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 had earlier closed its case after it called eight witnesses that testfied before the court, equally alleged that Metuh was involved in an illicit transaction that involved the exchange of $2million.