Metuh in court on stretcher, gets long adjournment

A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, on Monday, appeared on a stretcher before the Federal High Court in Abuja for his ongoing trial in respect of the N400m which he allegedly received fraudulently from the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) in 2014.
He wore a neck brace as he lay on a wheeled stretcher.
His body, from his legs to his chest, was covered with a white cloth with some unclear imprints.
He was motionless but occasionally moved his hands during the proceedings which lasted for about one hour and 25 minutes.
After the matter was adjourned on Monday, Metuh was taken from the courtroom located on the first floor of the five-storey building to an ambulance of the National Hospital, Abuja, waiting outside the courtroom.
He was driven away from the court premises in the ambulance in which he was earlier brought to court.
The ambulance, with number plate, 44Q 20FG, and with Metuh on board, departed the court premises at about 10.27am on Monday.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, had on January 25, 2016, rejected a letter from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, indicating that Metuh was on admission at the health facility.
The judge had noted in his ruling that the letter from the hospital, not being filed before the court through the established procedure and without any indication on it linking it to the trial, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s lawyer, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, was right to describe it as “a trash meant for the dustbin.”
Noting that the letter was smuggled into the court’s file, the judge had ordered that Metuh should either be in court on Monday or risk the revocation of his bail and be sent back to prison.
Following the threat by the court, Metuh was produced in court on a stretcher on Monday.
His lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), informed the judge that his client was still ill but had to be discharged by the hospital in Nnewi against the doctor’s advice out of respect for the court.
He sought an adjournment, an application which the counsel for the second defendant, Destra Investments Limited, Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), supported.
In response, EFCC’s prosecutor, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, said he had no choice but to concede to an adjournment due to the condition of the defendant.
He said, “I have just been served a few moments ago with an affidavit of facts referred to by the learned counsel for the first defendant.
“My lord, we are not in a position to counter what is contained in the affidavit and what has been amplified by the counsel for the first defendant.
“However, as a layman, being a mere mortal, I can see the first defendant in the condition in which he is. Therefore we will not oppose the application for adjournment made by the counsel for the first defendant.”
But he expressed worry that the letter accompanying the affidavit did not indicate the period for which Metuh would be under medical examination.
He also said he needed to disabuse the mind of everyone in court on Monday that he and his team members “are prosecutors and not persecutors.”
“We are doing our job and in doing that we have no ill will against anybody,” he added.
Ikpeazu added that the doctor refused to give any date within which Metuh needed to be monitored.
But the lawyer assured the court that his client should be fit to continue his trial after a period of one month.
In his ruling, Justice Abang reiterated that although the court needed to be firm at all times, it should also be humane when necessary.
He then adjourned the matter till March 14 for continuation of trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, on seven counts, including allegation of fraudulent receipt of the sum of N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014.
The charges also include the allegations that the ex-spokesperson for the PDP transacted with $2m cash which was said to be above the threshold of cash payment prescribed by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

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