The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, closed the case of former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh. Metuh is standing trial on alleged N400m money laundering charges.
The closure followed the absence of Metuh and his counsel at the trial for two consecutive sittings after Metuh fell in court and was subsequently admitted at the National Hospital, Abuja.Metuh had been in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital, where, according to a family source, he was being prepared for an emergency surgery.
But the trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang, in a bench ruling on an application by the prosecution, Sylvanus Tahir, seeking an order of the court to close the case of the first defendant (Metuh), held that the court had adjourned the matter until yesterday for the cross-examination of the 11th defence witness, Oladeji Bamidele.
The Judge expressed worry over the absence of the first defendant and his counsel in court.He stated that the court had on January 25, this year, granted Metuh’s application, dated January 19, to call additional seven witnesses to the nine he had already called, and ordered that the seven witnesses should be in court at all times to give evidence, as the court would not grant any other adjournment in the matter at the instance of the first defendant.
Noting that the order of the court, which was not appealed against, subsisted, Justice Abang noted that neither Metuh nor any of his counsel was in court for the trial yesterday and that no reason was given for their absence, as well as to give reasons why the matter should be adjourned.He said: “The first defendant (Metuh) has abandoned his defence and the absence of his counsel shows lack of interest in the defence of the first defendant.
“The first defendant is also not in court to call any of his witnesses to give evidence in the matter.“The only option the court has now is to close the case of the first defendant. I rely on Section 6 (b) of the constitution to close the case of the first defendant.
“I cannot manufacture an application for adjournment for the first defendant, therefore, the case of the first defendant is now closed.” Justice Abang further slated July 2 for the second defendant (Destra Investments Limited) to open its defence in the matter.
Meanwhile, in the same proceedings, one Kelechi Nwaiwu had announced his representation for Channels Television, which was summoned to appear in court to show cause why the station should not be asked to play the video recording of the Sunrise Daily programme of station, where an alleged prejudicial statement was made by one Ben Chuks Nwosu, a counsel in Metuh’s legal team.
Nwaiwu told the court that the station was not only represented in court, but has also filed an affidavit showing cause and an unedited DVD of the programme aired on May 22. Justice Abang commended the prompt response of the television station in producing the unedited DVD of the programme, even before it was asked.
The Judge adjourned the matter until July 2 and ordered Channels Television to be in court on July 3, with their equipment to play the DVD of the programme in the open court to enable the court determine whether the station allowed itself to be used to broadcast prejudicial statement and to misinform the public on a pending matter before the court, thereby bringing the court into disrepute.