Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Mr. Ike Abonyi, a defence witness in the ongoing trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, 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-count change of money laundering involving $2million cash transaction.
Abonyi who resigned as the acting Managing Director of the New Telegraph Newspaper, told the court during cross-examination by the counsel to the second defendant, Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), that Metuh’s ordeals were as a result of his role as the spokesman for the PDP.
According to him, “A lot of committed members of the PDP believe that Metuh got into trouble because of the role he played as the spokesman for the opposition party.
“There had been 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 the 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 election.
Earlier, counsel to Destra Investments Limited, Mr. Onwugbufor brought an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
In a motion dated April 13, 2016, and filed on April 14, 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 the defence had ample time to cross-examine the witness but if they were not willing to, he should be discharged.
Tahir relied on S 396(2)and 221 of the ACJA 2015 and urged the court to go on with the trial.
The trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang, in a short ruling on the application for adjournment held that the application for preliminary objections would be taken at the end of proceedings where he will also give his ruling.
He held: “I have carefully considered the argument canvassed carefully and dispassionately by all the counsel in this matter.
“The matter involving Metuh is a criminal matter and as such, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act applied.
The matter has been adjourned to April 27 for the continuation of trial.