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Friday, 25 May 2018

Justice Abang Closes Case In Metuh, Lawyer’s Absence

Justice Abang Closes Case In Metuh, Lawyer’s Absence

National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh

* …Orders 2nd Defendant To Open Its Case, July 3

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday closed the case of Olisa Metuh, in the ongoing trial of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Justice Abang closed Metuh’s case after the 11th defence witness, Oladeji Bamidele, was cross-examined by the Prosecution Counsel, Sylvanus Tahir.

However, Justice Abang took the decision not minding the absence of Metuh as well as his Counsel, Emeka Etiaba SAN, in court.

Abang had on Wednesday ordered that he would proceed with the trial of Metuh in his absence.

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Following Metuh’s fall in the courtroom on Monday, May 21, he has not been in Court for his trial.

The 1st defendant’s lawyer had told the Court to adjourn the trial because the former PDP Spokesman has been admitted into the Intensive Care Unit of the National Hospital Abuja following the fall.

Apparently not convinced, based on the fact that there was no reasonable evidence placed before the Court to disclose the whereabouts of Metuh, Justice Abang refused to adjourn the matter.

In fact, the Court held that Metuh’s “groaning, shouting and whimpering in the courtroom” as he lay down on the day he slipped and fell in the courtroom during trial, amounted to an act of misconduct.

While the Court ordered that the trial be continued on Thursday, May 24, counsel to Metuh did not turn up in court.

Similarly, when the matter came up on Friday, Metuh as well as his counsel, were not in court.

It was on this premise that the Prosecution applied that the case of the 1st defendant needed to be closed.

Justice Abang, in a bench ruling on Tahir’s application, said he was minded to grant the application.

Abang recalled that on January 25, 2018, the court granted Metuh’s application dated January 19, 2018 to call additional seven witnesses to the nine he had already called.

The Court said it ordered that the seven witnesses should always be in court at all times to give evidence, as the court will not grant any other adjournment in the matter at the instance of the first defendant.

While noting that the order of the Court, which has not been validly appealed against subsists, Justice Abang expressed dismay that neither Metuh nor any of his counsel was in court for the trial on Thursday and Friday.

The Court stated that no cogent reason was adduced as to why Metuh and his counsel were absent in court, and why the matter should be adjourned.

“The first defendant (Metuh) has abandoned his defence and the absence of his counsel shows lack of interest in the defence of the first defendant.

“The first defendant is also not in court to call any of his witnesses to give evidence in the matter.

“The only option the court has now is to close the case of the first defendant.

“I rely on Section 6 (b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended to close the case of the first defendant.

“I cannot manufacture an application for adjournment for the first defendant. Therefore, the case of the first defendant is now closed,” Justice Abang ordered.

Consequently, the court has fixed July 2, 2018 for the 2nd defendant (Destra Investments Limited), a company owned by Metuh, to open its defence in the trial.

Meanwhile, on the summon to Channels TV, Kelechi Nwaiwu, represented the media organization.

The Court had on Wednesday ordered Channels TV to show cause why the Station should not be asked to produce the video recording of the Sunrise Daily programme of the Station where an alleged prejudicial statement was made by Ben Chuks Nwosu, a counsel in Metuh’s legal team.

Nwaiwu told the Court that the Station was not only represented in Court but has also filed an affidavit showing cause and an unedited DVD of the Sunrise Daily programme of the station aired on May 22, 2018.

Justice Abang commended the prompt response of Channels Television for producing the unedited DVD of the programme, even before the court requested for it.

In the same vein, the Court adjourned to July 2, while directing Channels Television to be in court on July 3, 2018 with their equipment to play the DVD of the programme in the open court.

Abang stated that this would enable the court to determine whether the station allowed its station to be used to broadcast prejudicial statement in a matter subjudice to mis-inform the public.

Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited are being prosecuted by the Federal Government for allegedly receiving the sum of N400 million from the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (rtd) to fund campaign activities of the PDP.

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