By Alex Enumah in Abuja
A former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, Monday collapsed in court while attending his trial on alleged money laundering charges.
Metuh is standing trial on a seven-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N400 million allegedly received from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
At the resumed trial Monday, Metuh was trying to access the box before the judge asked him to return, but he fell as the walker he was using slipped while he was trying to adjust himself at the entrance of the dock.
Immediately, the court registrar rushed to the medical department to inform medics of the situation.
After examining the defendant, the medical personnel reported to the court that he should be sent to a hospital for further examination.
Before the incident, Metuh had consistently complained of ill-health and had on two different occasions applied for leave of court to travel abroad for medical attention.
The judge however on both occasions declined to grant his request.
However, while the medical personnel from the court was attending to Metuh, Justice Abang returned to sit.
He summoned the court registrar, Doyin Olawole, and the two clerks, Omoju James and Dorcas Danjuma, to address the court on what transpired.
After narrating one after the other what transpired in court, the court requested the defence counsel to call his 11th witness.
But, Metuh’s counsel, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), declined to continue with the proceedings, stating that he cannot go on when his client was lying critically ill on a stretcher.
He subsequently announced his withdrawal from the trial.
“The 1st defendant had a terrible fall while trying to mount the dock, and I don’t even know if he is alive or not on that stretcher.
“Since the court had insisted on proceeding with trial, I announce my withdrawal from the trial,” Etiaba stated.
But the judge refused to accept Etiaba’s withdrawal, saying it was a ploy to delay trial.
Abang also threatened to strike out the suit based on what he perceived as the inability of the prosecution counsel, Silvanus Tahir, to oppose an adjournment by the court based on the opinion of a medical doctor from the Federal High Court.
The court wondered why the prosecution after seeing what happened in court, and how a medical doctor who was not in court, would request that Metuh be taken to a hospital, yet the prosecution did not want to oppose the plea for adjournment.
“The Federal High Court has nothing against the 1st defendant. It is the duty of the prosecution to prosecute its case.
“This is not a case of the Federal High Court. If the prosecution does not want to proceed with the trial, the court will strike out the case,” Justice Abang threatened.
He subsequently adjourned the matter to May 22 for continuation of trial.
“In view of the application of the medical doctor in the employment of Federal High Court that was not in court at the commencement of proceeding and there being no objection and since it is a medical opinion, this matter is adjourned to May 22,” Abang held.