By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Embattled former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, on Tuesday, maintained before the Federal High Court in Abuja that he would not give evidence in the corruption case the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against him, until former President Goodluck Jonathan appeared to testify as a witness in the matter.
Metuh, who is facing a seven-count criminal charge alongside his firm, Destra Investment Limited, insisted that the testimony of ex-President Jonathan, who he intends to call as the ninth defence witness, DW-9, would determine whether or not he would personally testify in the case.
It will be recalled that though trial Justice Okon Abang, on Monday, fixed November 11 for the court bailiff to make one more attempt to effect personal service of a witness summon on Jonathan at his Abuja residence, the Judge however ordered Metuh to proceed with his own evidence, failure of which he would be forclosed from either testifying or calling further witness in his defence.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba, SAN, and counsel to his firm, Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufor, SAN, contended that Justice Abang’s decison was contrary to section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The defence lawyers argued that the time the court gave for Metuh to testify ahead of Jonathan or to produce any other witness was not sufficient.
“My lord, the period between Monday and today which is barely 17 hours, has not afforded the 1st defendant the opportunity to produce a witness”, Etiaba insisted.
Besides, he told the court that some documents his client intended to use for his defence was in possession of one of his aides that travelled to Anambra state.
While dismissing Metuh’s contention, Justice Abang said the court had on November 3, adjourned to enable the former PDP spokesman to conclude his defence.
The Judge held that Metuh had over 31 days to make adequate arrangement to assemble his witnesses.
“The 1st defendant has failed to call any other witness or testify in person having been giving the oppurtunity to do so.
“Whether a party will call a witness or not cannot be predicated on the evidence of a witness yet to be called.
“However, this case is further adjourned at the instance of the 1st defendant to December 6 for continuation of trial”, Justice Abang held.
Meanwhile, Metuh’s lawyer said he would go to the Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling.
EFCC is prosecuting Metuh over allegation that he had before the 2015 Presidential election, received N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, without executing any contract.
It said the fund was electronically wired from an account that ONSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to Metuh, via account no. 0040437573, which his firm operated with Diamond Bank Plc.
EFCC maintained that the fund which was released to Metuh and his firm by detained former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, was part of about $2.1billion earmarked for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency in the North East.
More so, the prosecution which had earlier closed its case after it called eight witnesses that testfied before the court, equally alleged that Metuh was involved in an illicit transaction that involved the exchange of $2million.
However, Metuh insisted that the money he got was on the order of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The PDP chieftain, through witnesses he produced before the court admitted that fund was duly allocated to his office for media campaigns.
To substantiate his claim, Metuh persuaded the court to issue two separate subpoena ad testificanum to compel both Jonathan and Dasuki to testify in his defence, discribing the duo as very crucial and vital witnesses in the matter.
Whereas the Department of State Service, DSS, on November 3, brought Dasuki before the court to testify as a witness in the trial, ex-President Jonathan had yet to appear before the court owing to inability of the bailiff to serve a copy of the subpoena on him.
EFCC had asked the court to vacate the subpoena against Jonathan, saying Metuh’s insistence on calling the ex-President to mount the witness box to give evidence in the corruption case has constituted “a stumbling block” in the trial.
Neverthless, Metuh told the court that he was determined to produce Jonathan to testify in the matter despite threats he said have been made to his life.
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