Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on January 11, 2017 adjourned the trial of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh to February 20-24, 2017 on grounds of ill-health.
The trial was initially slated for yesterday January 10 for continuation of defence, but had to be adjourned to today following an application by Metuh’s counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, that the former PDP spokesperson was sick and could not make it to court.
At the sitting, Ikpeazu told the court that Metuh was rushed to the National Hospital in Abuja on Sunday, January 8, 2017 after he collapsed during a church service. He pleaded for a short adjournment to enable the defence present necessary report to back up its claim.
Counsel to EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, had opposed the application relying on Section 354(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, which provides that the state of health of the accused person, not supported by a medical report, do not constitute a reasonable ground for an adjournment.
The court, notwithstanding the opposition by the prosecution, obliged the defence with the adjournment.
At today’s proceeding, Emeka Etiaba, SAN, representing the first defendant (Metuh) presented to the court a copy of the medical report which discloses details of the alleged ailment for which Metuh was admitted.
Again, Etiaba prayed the court to further adjourn the matter to enable his client adequate time to recover and stand his trial.
Counsel for the second defendant, Destra Investment Limited, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), also supported the application.
Onwugbufor held that it was proper for the court to adjourn the matter as the trial cannot proceed without the presence of the accused person. He, therefore, prayed the court to give a three week adjournment to enable the first defendant treat himself.
Tahir, while responding, said he had no reason to object to the adjournment and wished the first defendant a speedy recovery.
Justice Abang after listening to the submissions of both counsel said that he was satisfied with the medical report and adjourned the case.
Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited, are being prosecuted on a 7-count of fraud to the tune of N400million which he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014 without justification.
The money was said to have been released to Metuh and his firm by the immediate past NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), from about $2.1bn allegedly earmarked by the then President Goodluck Jonathan administration for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency in the North-East.