Absence of Metuh’s Counsel Stalls Hearing on Motion to Summon Ex-NSA

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Alex Enumah

Hearing on an application seeking the order of court to compel the Department of State Services (DSS) to produce former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), to testify in the alleged N400million money laundering suit against former Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, was monday stalled due to the absence of his counsel.

Also stalled was an application by Metuh for a temporary release of his international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical treatment.

When the matter came up monday, the 2nd defendant‘s counsel, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) told the court that the applicant’s counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu SAN, had written to the court for an adjournment because he was having a matter at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and as such would not be available to take the applications.
Onwungbufor who noted that the Federal High Court and the FCT High Court have coordinate jurisdiction, however, prayed the court to grant an adjournment as the matter before the FCT High Court has been granted an accelerated hearing.

In the alternative, the counsel urged the court to stand down the applications to enable Ikpeazu to be available to move them.

In his brief ruling, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, held that though the defendants had already exhausted their adjournments, he would however stand down the matter in the overall interest of justice.

When the matter resumed at about 2p.m., Onwugbuefor informed the court that he went to the FCT High Court to inform Ikpeazu about the court order but Ikpeazu told him that the prosecution had tendered a multiple documents through a witness, Babatunde Adepoju, an operative of the DSS.

He said a defence counsel had already objected to the admissibility of the documents and that it was his turn to also raise an objection.

Onwugbufor stated that Ikpeazu has respect for the court and therefore asked him to apologise on his behalf over his absence, adding that his action was not deliberate.

He therefore asked the court to take into consideration the challenge of Ikpeazu and grant the request for an adjournment.

Responding, the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, who had thought that Onwugbuefor would have held the brief of the 1st defendant counsel however, left the matter to the discretion of the court.

In his ruling, Justice Abang said: “In view of the passionate plea of Onwugbufor, I am inclined again to use my discretion in favour of the 1st defendant”, adding that the matter would be heard on February 22 without fail.
Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited are been prosecuted by the federal government on seven counts of alleged N400million fraud and money laundering.

The EFCC accused the defendants of fraudulently receiving from the office of the NSA in November 2014 the sum of N400million meant for procurement of arm.

The prosecution alleged that part of the N400million received from the ONSA was used by Metuh to fund the PDP’s presidential campaign for the 2015 election in which Jonathan was the party’s candidate.