Friday, 26 January 2018

Attend court Feb. 5 or be returned to prison, judge tells Metuh

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered a former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Olisa Metuh, to attend court on February 5 or be arrested and returned to prison.

Justice Abang gave the order yesterday whiling on two applications. One by Metuh’s lawyer, Okezie Ikpeazu (SAN), for adjournment on health ground and the other by prosecution lawyern Sylvanus Tahir, seeking the revocation of Metuh’s bail for allegedly being absent in court for not cogent reasons.

The judge said Metuh had been absent from his trial since Monday without any lawful excuse. This, the judge said, was a sufficient reason to revoke the defendant’s bail.

Metuh and his company, Dextra Investment Limited are being tried on money laundering charges before the court.

Last Monday, Metuh was absent in court and his lawyer said he was on admission at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State. He drew the court’s attention to a letter to thate effecr from the hospital.

On Tuesday, Ikpeazu applied for an adjournment of the case to a period outside this week based on the health situation of his client, an application Tahir objected to.

Tahir described the letter from the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, relied on by Ikpeazu as worthless.

He urged the court to revoke Metuh’s bail and return him to prison, from where he should be made to attend his trial.

Justice Abang, in his ruling, noted that the medical report relied on by Metuh to stay away from court was fraudulently smuggled into the court’s file and aimed at forcing the court to stay proceedings in the trial indefinitely.

He agreed with Tahir to the effect the hospital’s letter dated January 21, 2018 indicating that Metuh had been on admission since the previous day, for treatment for an ailment, was sent to the court to frustrate the trial.

He queried why the medical report had to be issued barely 24 hours to the resumption of the trial on January 22.

The judge also queried how the letter issued in Nnewi, Anambra State, could find its way to the court’s file in Abuja within 24 hours.

He said the letter was fraudulently smuggled into the court’s file and defence lawyers chose to rely on it to ask for an adjournment yet refused to disclose the identity of the person who sent the document to the court.

Ikpeazu and lawyer to Destra, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), thanked the judge for showing sympathy to Metuh.

They promised not to stall the trial, and noted that the judge has always given the case accelerated hearing before the January 12, 2018 judgment of the Supreme Court, which directed that the case be promptly decided.

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