Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday granted an order for the stay of execution of an order he made on July 3, directing the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to prosecute three Channels Television presenters, over alleged broadcast of prejudicial materials in respect of the trial of former Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh.
Metuh and his company Dextra Nigeria limited are standing trial on a seven-count charge of money laundering preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision (EFCC).
They were accused of receiving the sum of N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), prior to the 2015 presidential election, without executing any contract.
However, as the case progresses in court, the three presenters were said to have commented on the matter in a manner prejudicial to the court.
Justice Abang had maintained that the conduct of the three presenters- Chamberlain Usoh, Gimba Umar and Anneota Egbe- in asking questions on a case pending before his court, was contemptuous.
Consequently, he directed that the AGF to arraign them before any court of same coordinate jurisdiction as the Federal High Court, alongside the former Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Ben-Chuks Nwosu, who is a member of the legal team of the first defendant.
However, Justice Abang temporarily suspended the order for their prosecution while ruling on an application filed by the lawyer to Channels TV, G. T. Ogunlewe, seeking a stay of execution of the order, pending the outcome of an appeal the media outfit filed against his ruling.
Meanwhile, the trial of metuh and his company had been adjourned to today, after prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, opposed an application by the second defendant seeking adjournment of the trial till November 29.
At the resumed sitting yesterday, Justice Abang had informed of an application by the counsel to the second defendant, Tochukwu Onwugbufor SAN, dated October 18, asking for the matter to be shifted till November to enable him to represent his client in the trail.
Onwugbufor, was absent in court as he was yet to return from London where he is currently receiving medical attention.
While opposing the application, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, noted that the case was adjourned since July 6. He argued that nothing before the court proved that Onwugbufor was indeed outside the country as he claimed.
Tahir equally contended that Onwugbufor ought to have tutored a junior lawyer in his chambers to hold brief for him pending his return.
Responding, Justice Abang, who declined to grant the request for adjournment, ordered Metuh to continue the defence of the charge against him today.