Saturday, 16 January 2016

Court remands Metuh in prison till Tuesday

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered that the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, should be remanded in prison till Tuesday, the day scheduled for the hearing of his bail application with respect to the charges of money laundering preferred against him.

Justice Okon Abang gave the order after the PDP spokesperson pleaded not guilty to the seven counts of money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The EFCC alleged that Metuh received N400m, part of the money meant for the procurement of arms, from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the immediate past NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), who is also facing two sets of other charges bordering on the diversion of arms funds, released the money to the PDP National Publicity Secretary and a firm, Destra Investments Limited through their Diamond Bank Plc accounts for campaign activities of the PDP.

Earlier on Friday, Justice Abang rejected the request by defence counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), to make oral application for Metuh's bail.

The judge ruled that the EFCC counsel, Mr. Sylvester Tahir, having opposed the oral application for bail and the fact that evidence that needed to be adduced for and against the bail application could not be led from the bar (by lawyers), it was necessary to direct the defence to make the application formal.

Tahir also opposed the request by the defence that Metuh should be remanded in EFCC custody.

The judge upheld the objection and directed that the accused should be remanded in prison.

The judge directed the defence to file and serve the bail application within six hours from the time of delivering the ruling and also directed EFCC, if it so wished, to file and serve its objection to it within 24 hours.

He ruled that the defence was at liberty to file a further response to EFCC's objection to the bail application within five hours if it intended to.

The judge granted an accelerated hearing of the case and thus directed that the trial would commence on January 25 and would proceed day to day.

The judge, who was newly redeployed from Lagos Division of the court to the Abuja Division, warned lawyers against filing frivolous application targeted at the delaying the case.

'Abuja Bar, please note this, there will be no frivolous application to delay the case. The trial will start on January 25. Order of accelerated hearing is granted and the case will continue day to day. Prosecution, you must get your witnesses ready every day,' Justice Abang said.

The Friday's proceedings went on amid solidarity protest outside court premises by those who called for the release of Metuh from custody.

Earlier, Metuh who was arraigned along with his firm, Destra Investments Limited, pleaded not guilty to all the seven counts.

The EFCC alleged in the laundering case, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2016, that Metuh and Destra, through their accounts with Diamond Bank Plc, collected the sum of N400m from the NSA office on November 22, 2015 for PDP's campaign activities.

The prosecution alleged that the N400m was 'part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity' of the immediate past NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).

In the fresh charges, Metuh and Destra allegedly transferred the sum of N21.8m to Anenih and they (Metuh and Destra) thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended in 2012) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

The EFCC alleged in the last and seventh count that of the N400m collected from the NSA office, Metuh transferred the sum of N21, 776,000 to Anenih on December 4, 2014.