Alleged N400m fraud: Metuh deliberately using excuse of ill-health to frustrate his trial – EFCC
Erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, yesterday, failed to appear in court for continuation of his trial, eventhough he filed a letter pleading for adjournment on ground of ill-health. Metuh Metuh, in the letter he wrote through his lawyer, said he was hosptalised at Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi in Anambra State. The former PDP spokesman equally served the court with a letter, dated January 21, 2018, signed on behalf of the hospital by one Dr. O. C. Ekwegwu, indicating that he was admitted for treatment. Metuh was said to have been rushed to the hospital last Saturday after his health deteriorated while on a visit to his home town. Consequently, Metuh’s lead counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, prayed the court to adjourn the trial in the interest of justice to enable the defendant to receive proper medical attention. EFCC kicks However, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, accused Metuh of deliberately using the excuse of ill-health to frustrate his trial. The prosecutor drew attention of the court to a recent order of the Supreme Court for expeditious determination of the case. “My lord, the Supreme Court was emphatic in its ruling earlier this year that this trial should be handled with dispatch. And here we are, confronted with a situation that will simply defeat that order made by the Supreme Court while deciding the interlocutory appeal filed by the second defendant,” Tahir fumed. Neverthless, EFCC said it grudgingly decided not to oppose Metuh’s request for an adjournment. In his reply, the defence lawyer, Dr. Ikpeazu, SAN, argued that the Supreme Court did not rule that where a defendant was ill and could not come to court, an adjournment should not be granted. Bench ruling After he had listened to both sides, trial Justice Okon Abang, in a bench ruling, adjourned the case till today for cross-examination of Metuh’s 9th witness. Justice Abang said: “I note here that the prosecution counsel reluctantly conceded to an adjournment. Therefore, I am inclined in the interest of justice to grant an adjournment. “This case is hereby adjourned at the instance of the first defendant to January 23 for cross-examination of first defendant’s ninth witness.” Metuh is facing a seven-count criminal charge alongside his firm, Destra Investment Limited.