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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Judge Resumes Metuh’s Trial In Absentia

Judge Resumes Metuh’s Trial In Absentia

A Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja has said that Olisa Metuh’s health condition were unknown to the court and has resumed his trial in absentia.

Mr Metuh, a former Publicity Secretary to an opposition party in Nigeria, is standing trial on alleged corruption charge brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The former Peoples Democratic Party, PDP spokesperson collapsed in court on Monday.

However, instead of stopping, the trial judge, Justice Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja continued with the case.

This seemed to have angered Emeka Etiaba, Mr Metuh’s lawyer, who had previously requested that the judge allow his client to travel abroad for treatment.

Mr Etiaba said: “The 1st defendant had a terrible fall while trying to mount the dock, and I don’t even know if he is alive on that stretcher.”

He explained that “since the court has insisted on proceeding with trial,” he was going to “withdrawal from the trial.”

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We gathered that on the following day, May 22, the defendant did not appear in court.

Sylvanus Tahir, the EFCC prosecutor made a request to the judge for the trial to continue without Mr Metuh.

Justice Abang, who adjourned the matter to May 24 granted Mr Tahir’s prayers, saying: “I entirely agree with the submission of Tahir that what transpired in the court room amounts to a misconduct by willfully failing to abide by the directives of the court to remain on his seat,” he said.

“The court had directed the defendant to remain on his seat because in my view, he wanted to give the impression that he could not walk properly since he was using a walking aid.

“The defendant ignored the directive of the court and headed for the dock then he fell which made the court to adjourn for 29 minutes.

“When the court reconvened, I saw the court’s doctor, Adaora Ikezor in the court room, she approached the bench and told the court that the defendant needed to be taken to the hospital.”

However, Mr Metuh was not taken to the hospital as adviced.

The trial judge explained that “where the issue involves a defendant in a criminal trial, and the proceedings are ongoing, not adjourned, a medical doctor cannot attend to the defendant that purportedly needs medical attention without the permission of the court.

“This is because looking at the checkered history of this case, the court doctor cannot just on her own decide to attend to the defendant without the knowledge and permission of the court.”

Since 2015, the EFCC, a leading anti-graft agency in Nigeria has struggled to carry out an investigation that leads to the successful conviction of any Politically Exposed Persons, PEPs.

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Critics say that President Muhammadu Buhari, who rode in on the promise to kill corruption should have appointed a more competent person to head the anti-graft agency, following Ibrahim Mustafa Magu’s rejection by the Senate based on an indicting report by the Department of State Security Services, DSS.

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