Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja thursday held that the court was yet to be convinced of the medical condition of the erstwhile spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to warrant his travelling abroad for treatment.
The court consequently refused Metuhâ€™s request for leave of court to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Justice Abang had on May 25, 2016, and October 23, 2017, dismissed similar appeals, noting that â€œthere is nothing new in the instant application.â€
He said: â€œI am wondering, with every sense of responsibility if the 1st defendant (Metuh) is really ill to warrant him being brought to court on a stretcher.
â€œI have my doubt if the 1st defendant is actually sickâ€.
The judge, doubting the true state of health of Metuh asked, â€œWhy is it that the 1st defendant did not challenge the decision of the trial court at the Court of Appeal.â€
Justice Abang held that Metuh â€œought to have timeously appealed for the Court of Appeal to review whether this court was right or wrong in dismissing the applications for leave to travel abroad for medical treatment.
While insisting that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the application the third time, the court reasoned and agreed with the prosecution counsel that the application â€œIs an unpardonable and reckless abuse of judicial process.â€
Consequently, Justice Abang declared: â€œI cannot, on account of human sympathy, review my earlier decisions. I am functus officio to sit on appeal over my earlier decisions.â€
On the merit of the application, whether the court can hear it without a medical report, Justice Abang held that before the application would be granted, the 1st defendant is expected to show special circumstances.
It was the courtâ€™s contention that for Metuh to be able to prove that he needed leave to travel abroad, what was needed was an expert opinion on part of medicine relating to his ill-health.
â€œIt is not the evidence deposed to by Obinna Metuh, the 1st defendantâ€™s younger brother, or the persuasive arguments by the defence lawyers that can make the court exercise itâ€™s discretion, Justice Abang held.
â€œWhat is required for the court to consider is a medical report issued by an expert,â€ the court said.
Accordingly, Justice Abang stated that, â€œthere was no credible evidence before the court which is compelling, an evidence which shows special circumstances to warrant an order for the release of the 1st defendantâ€™s international passport.
The court described affidavit depositions by Obinna, as â€œspeculation and hearsay,â€ and therefore agreed with the prosecution counsel that all the exhibits tendered by Metuh â€œare non convincing, and with no medical report.â€
Speaking to journalists outside the courtroom, Metuh, who came to court, supported by arm clutch, expressed worries in the manner his trial was handled but urged his lawyers not to be frustrated.
He stressed that even though he has tendered his evidences and has not done anything unlawful since the commencement of the trial, it appeared the court was bent on convicting him by all means.
His words: â€œBut at the same time, the choice of words and the things that were said in court were frustrating. This is so because in the course of defending this matter, there has been nothing unlawful, illegal or anything wrong we have done. At some point, it might lead to getting the counsel frustrated in the defense of the matter.
â€œSo I have just informed my lawyers that in terms of defense of this matter, if there is anything they are afraid of, I can assure them that I believe in my innocence, and immediately after this witness, I donâ€™t think I will allow any other witness to be called.
â€œI will go to the stand because I donâ€™t think there is anything in my case that will lead to conviction.
â€œBut I am not afraid of anything. I have not been afraid of this trial. Rather, I am afraid of my medical condition.
â€œFor the court to question why I should be well during the Christmas period and suddenly fell ill by the end of January was surprising. I am not God. May be some people are but I am not God to decide when somebody falls ill or when he can be healed.â€