Alleged N400m Fraud: Metuh Wants President Jonathan in Witness Box

0

Alex Enumah in Abuja
Former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, on Monday revealed plans to get former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to testify in his ongoing trial of allegations of fraud against him before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.

Metuh’s desire to get Jonathan into the witness box through a court order is coming just as former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki, has said he would not appear in court to testify for Metuh until he is released from custody.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had on September 29 ordered the Department of State Service (DSS) to produce Dasuki before the Federal High Court in Abuja to enable him to testify as Metuh’s witness.

Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, are been prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a seven-count charge of money laundering involving alleged cash transaction of $2million.
He is also alleged to have received the sum of N400million meant for procurement of arms from the NSA office on November 22, 2014.

At the resumed trial yesterday, counsel to Metuh, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), told the trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang, that he had written to Jonathan, requesting him to appear in court to give evidence on behalf of his client but that the former president did not reply.
Consequently, Ikpeazu informed the court that he had intention to apply for subpoena to be issued on Jonathan to appear in court and testify.

“We have another witness on subpoena, and at the end of the evidence of this other witness, we will take a decision on whether or not the first defendant (Metuh) will testify.
“The other witness we want to subpoena is Goodluck Jonathan, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We did not before now apply to compel Jonathan to appear on this matter. We wrote a letter but he did not respond and our plan will be to apply for the subpoena after the first application for subpoena to be issued on Dasuki,” Ikpeazu told the court.
Responding, prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, said it is the duty of the counsel of the first defendant not to harbour that as an intention but to accomplish it with necessary application.

Midway into the trial, Justice Abang informed the court that he had complied with the decision of the Court of Appeal which held that he should compel Dasuki who is been held by the DSS to appear in court and give evidence.He said the subpoena was signed on October 3, and called on the court registrar to confirm service on the DSS.
Justice Abang said the court had already scheduled the former NSA to appear in court October 25 to tell the court all he knew about the matter.

He also informed the court of a motion by counsel to Dasuki, Ahmed Raji (SAN), and called on him to identify his application.
Responding, Raji told the trial judge that he is opposing the request to compel the ex-NSA to testify as defence witness.

According to him, “There is an application by way of motion, dated October 20, and filed on the same day.
“Parties have also been served. The application seeks an order to set aside the subpoena issued to compel Dasuki to appear before the court to testify, or an order suspending the execution of the order pending the release of the applicant from the DSS custody.

Dasuki, who is facing several charges, including criminal breach of trust, fraud and illegal possession of firearms among others preferred against him by the federal government has been granted bail by three different courts in Nigeria and the Economic community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice but has been in the DSS custody since December 2015.

When called upon for their reaction to Dasuki’s motion, while counsel to the federal government stated that he is vehemently opposed to the motion and will reply on point of law, Metuh’s counsel however said he was partially opposed to the motion, adding that it would be unfair for the witness to still be in the custody after he has been granted bail.

Similarly, counsel to the second defendant, Tochukwu Onwugbufor SAN, who shared similar belief with counsel to the first defendant on the plight of Dasuki, however, said he would need to study the application before he can decide whether to oppose it or not.

In his ruling, Justice Abang in line with the decision of the Court of Appeal ordered that Dasuki should come and testify before the court in Metuh’s trial.
“After listening to all the party’s submissions, it is my humble view in accordance with the 1999 Constitution and Evidence Act that there is no particular manner to adopt or call witnesses.

“I will hear the oral application of the counsel of the first defendant seeking to subpoena President Jonathan to testify in this court.
“I am adjourning till October 24 in the instant of the first defendant and October 25 for Dasuki, who will come forth to give evidence,” he added.