Update: ‘Tears’ as lawyers abandon Metuh

By Post Nigeria March 17, 2016 13:15

Update: ‘Tears’ as lawyers abandon Metuh

Tahir Sylvanus, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has reluctantly conceded to the plea of adjournment by the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Tahir, who was speaking before Justice Abang, said he was baffled that Metuh was trying to stall his trial.

“To be honest, I am dumbfounded and baffled. Going by the court’s record, right from the time of arraignment to date, the defendant has been represented by a legion of lawyers of which Onyechi Ikpeazu, is just a lead counsel,” he said.

“Adedipe has been on the list of appearance consistently. But an impression is being created that without Ikpeazu the case cannot go on.

“I, the prosecution, is being blackmailed in opposing this application. Ordinarily any of the able hands can take up the defence. My lord in this circumstance, we ask that Adedipe proceed with case on any date the court may deem fit.

“We reluctantly concede to the request for adjournment.”

Meanwhile, Metuh has petitioned the chief justice of the federal high court, requesting that his case be transferred to another judge.

Abang revealed this while addressing counsel to the prosecution and the defence in court on Thursday.

He said Metuh, through one of his lawyers, Emeka Etiaba, petitioned the chief judge accusing him of bias in the case.

The judge also said Etiaba accused him of giving majority of rulings in favour of the prosecution, and that Metuh was his classmate at law school.

But Abang said he never knew Metuh, saying Etiaba would need to prove the allegation.

“The court will not be blackmailed. I fear no evil,” he said.

“I shall continue to preside over this case until the honorable chief judge takes a decision on the petition.”


 

It was dramatic on Thursday, March 17, as the Defence counsel Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, and other lawyers of the embattled National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh did not show up in court on the ground of ill-health.

Metuh, was almost in tears when the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, ruled that the trial must continue despite the absence of the defence counsels.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is prosecuting Metuh and his firm, Destra Investments Limited, on a seven-count charge of fraud relating to the N400 million he received from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, in November 2012 and $2 million money laundering cash transaction.

Consequently, Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja, directed that despite the absence of Metuh lawyers, the case will still proceed as planned.

Related:  APC in ‘tears’ as Metuh rubbishes EFCC

When the case was called at exactly 9am earlier today, the judge was handed a letter, asking for an adjournment on the case on the ground that Metuh’s lawyers were ill.

The judge said the letter indicated that Ikpeazu had travelled to‎ the University of Ilorin for treatment without stating the particular hospital he was visiting.

In a bench ruling on Thursday, Justice Abang, said there was no evidence that the defence lawyer’s letter, asking for an adjournment was served on the prosecution.

He ruled, “Therefore my lords, I am inclined to stand down the matter till 12pm for the defendant to open their defence.

“I will only take decision on the request for adjournment by 12pm.”

Justice Abang, had in a ruling on March 9, dismissed Metuh’s no-case submission, directing him to open his defence in the trial.

The PDP spokesperson had in his no-case submission asked the court to discharge and acquit him and his company on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to lead evidence linking him to the alleged crimes.

However, the judge held in his ruling that the accused had a case to answer to enable him to offer explanations about the allegations leveled against him.

He had explained in the opening of his ruling that the court was not expected at the time, to make findings on the guilt or otherwise of the accused.

He added, that the court could also not make pronouncement on the credibility of the prosecution witnesses that had testified.

After the prosecution closed its case with eight witnesses, the defendants through their lawyers filed a no-case submission, asking the court to discharge and acquit them on the grounds that the prosecution failed to make any prima facie case against them.

Nevertheless, the judge ruled against the defendants, holding that the prosecution’s case had raised so many questions, which the defendants needed, “to urgently answer”.

Related:  EFCC shocks Metuh in court