- Fixes July 3 for Channels TV to play DVD of alleged prejudicial statement
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday closed the case of former Spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh standing trial on alleged N400m money laundering charges.
The closure was sequel to the absence of Chief Metuh and his counsel at the trial on two consecutive occasions, since Metuh’s fall in court and subsequent admission at the National Hospital, Abuja.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, in a bench ruling on an application by the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, seeking an order of the court closing the case of the first defendant (Metuh) said the court had adjourned the matter till yesterday for the cross examination of the 11th Defence witness, Oladeji Bamidele and expressed worry over the absence of the first defendant and his counsel in court.
He stated that the court had, on January 25, 2018 granted Metuh’s application dated January 19, 2018 to call additional seven witnesses to the nine he had already called and ordered that the seven witnesses should be in court at all times to give evidence, as the court will not grant any other adjournment in the matter at the instance of the first defendant.
While noting that the order of the court, which was not appealed against subsists, Justice Abang noted that neither Metuh nor any of his counsel was in court for the trial yesterday and that no reason was given for their absence as well as to state why the matter should be adjourned.
“The first defendant (Metuh) has abandoned his defence and the absence of his counsel shows lack of interest in the defence of the first defendant.
“The first defendant is also not in court to call any of his witness to give evidence in the matter.
“The only option the court has now is to close the case of the first defendant. I rely on Section 6 (b) of the constitution to close the case of the first defendant.
“I cannot manufacture an application for adjournment for the first defendant, therefore, the case of the first defendant is now closed”, Justice Abang stated and slated July 2, 2018 for the second defendant (Destra Investments Limited) to open its defence in the matter.
Meanwhile, in the same proceedings, one Kelechi Nwaiwu, announced representation for Channels Television, which was summoned to appear in court yesterday to show cause why the station should not be asked to play the video recording of the Sunrise daily programme of Channels Television, where an alleged prejudicial statement was made by one Ben Chuks Nwosu, a counsel in Metuh’s legal team.
Nwaiwu told the court that the station was not only represented in court but has also filed an affidavit showing cause and an unedited DVD of the Sunrise daily programme of the station aired on May 22, 2018. Justice Abang commended the prompt response of the Channels Television, by producing the unedited DVD of the programme, even before it was asked.
The Judge adjourned the matter till July 2, 2018 and ordered Channels Television to be in court on July 3, 2018 with their equipment to play the DVD of the programme in the open court to enable the court determine whether the station allowed its station to be used to broadcast prejudicial statement, to misinform the public on a pending matter before the court, thereby bringing the court into disrepute.
Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited are being prosecuted by the federal government for allegedly receiving the sum of N400 million from the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (rtd) and using same to fund political activities of his party during the 2015 general elections.