Defence Witness Says Metuh’s Trial Politically Motivated

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

A defence witness in the ongoing trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, Mr Ike Abonyi, on Wednesday told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that Metuh’s trial was politically motivated.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on January 15, 2016, arraigned Metuh and his firm, Destra Investments Limited, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on seven counts of money laundering involving $2m cash transaction.

The witness, Mr. Abonyi, who resigned as the Acting Managing Director of the New Telegraph Newspaper, told the court during cross-examination by counsel to the second defendant, Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), that Metuh’s ordeals were as a result of his role as the spokesman for People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

According to him, “A lot us, committed members of the PDP, believed that Metuh got into trouble because of the role he played as the spokesman for the opposition party.

“There had been lot of apprehension even before he was arrested in January this year to the extent that he called a press conference to tell the world that the ruling party could come for him any day.”

In his testimony, he maintained that former President Goodluck Jonathan who doubled as president and leader of the party paid Metuh to launder his image and that of the party in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

Earlier, counsel to Destra Investments Limited Mr. Onwugbufor (SAN) brought an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

In a motion dated 13th April 2016 and filed on 14th April, Onwugbufor hinged his prayers on Section 396(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

He said, the constitution supercedes any other law and the issue of jurisdiction could be raised at any point of trial.

“Our point is that we are raising issue of jurisdiction which is a constitutional matter. A constitutional issue supercedes any other law or whatever Act be it the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
“The court is bound to hear issues of jurisdiction when raised at any time and point in a trial” he said.

The prosecution counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, who vehemently opposed the application for adjournment told the court to go on with the trial.

He said that the defence had ample time to cross-examine the witness but if they were not willing to, he should be discharged.

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