Metuh’s Trial Continues in Absentia

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  • Judge declares his fall was stage-managed

Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has held that the trial of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will continue in his absence.

Justice Abang in a ruling, held that Metuh’s trial can continue in his absence since he failed to show any reasonable excuse for his absence in court last Tuesday and Wednesday.

He refused an application by Metuh’s counsel, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), that the court should suspend trial until Metuh recuperate enough to appear in court to face his trial.

Metuh collapsed last Monday as he was making his way to the dock when his case was called and was rushed to the National Hospital in Abuja in the ambulance of the Federal High Court as advised by the medical doctor from the court.

The former PDP spokesman, who was absent in court last Tuesday and yesterday, was said to be on admission at the Intensive Care Unit of the National Hospital, Abuja where he is currently being treated of the spinal chord injuries he is suffering from.

But Justice Abang declared that Metuh did not collapse but decide to fall down on his own after violating a lawful directive of the court to remain where he was seated beside the dock, where he had sat for about five times during proceedings.

Abang said: “When the 1st defendant ignored the humane directive of the court to seat where he was seated outside the dock and fell down on his own, the court rose for few minutes and after it reconvened, it found out that a medical doctor from the court, Dr. Andora Ikpeazor, attended to the 1st defendant and advised that he should be taken to the hospital.

“When he fell, the people around him, who aided him to the court did not make any attempt to raise him up and he was on the floor, groaning and whispering loudly, thereby disturbing the proceedings of the court. This amounts to misconduct by the defendant,” he said.

Justice Abang said the court did not invite the doctor to attend to Metuh and had no right to give any medical opinion that Metuh should be taken to the hospital.

“A doctor cannot attend to a defendant during proceedings without the permission of the court. I agreed with the prosecution counsel, that what is playing out as regards to Metuh’s absence in court without any explanation, amounts to disregard for the authority of the court and the judiciary,” he added.

He said Metuh has jumped bail by absenting himself from court on May 22 and 23, 2018 and that proceeding with the trial without his presence will not deny him fair hearing, adding that Metuh’s attitude constitute an act to scuttle or frustrate the trial.

The judge also summoned the General Manager of Channels Television, Abuja and one of the presenters of Sunrise Daily, Maupe Oguns Yusuf, over the broadcast of alleged prejudicial material on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

Both the GM and Maupe are to appear before the court on Friday, 25, May 2018 to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them.

The alleged prejudicial statement is in relation with the comment of one of defence counsel on the network of the television in the trial of Metuh.

Metuh, alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited, are being prosecuted by the federal government for receiving the sum of N400m from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, a fund meant for the purchase of arms to fight Boko Haram.

Justice Abang in the ruling, directed the prosecution counsel to personally served the General Manager of the television station and Maupe with the enrol order before 6p.m. of Wednesday 23, May, 2019, adding that where personal service was not possible, the order should be pasted on the gate of channels building.

He said the prosecution should snap the pasted order with the building, and affidavit of service be filed before the court.

The order was sequel to an oral application by the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, on Tuesday accusing the station and a member of Metuh’s legal team of making prejudicial statement in the television’s programme, Sunrise Daily.

Tahir in the oral application prayed the court for an order on the duo to make available to the court the video recording of the programme which featured the counsel, Ben Chuks Nwosu, allegedly making comments on a case pending before the court.

He subsequently adjourned till today for continuation of the trial