The trial of Olisa Metuh, former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, continued on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 with Metuh asking the court for leave to travel to UK for medical treatment.
Metuh is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja, for allegedly receiving N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, in 2014 to run advocacy campaign for former President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Emeka Etiaba, SAN, while moving the application on behalf of Metuh said:
“We have an application dated and filed on February 23, 2018. It is made in pursuant to Section 33 (1), 36 (5) and 6b of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and under the inherent of the decision of this Honourable Court”.
Though, the court said it would take the application of the first defendant, it wondered if the court still had the jurisdiction to entertain an application of such nature, having refused two similar applications in the past.
“The court will take the application of the first defendant. The question is whether this court has jurisdiction to entertain fresh application by the first defendant for the release of his international passport. Similar reasons have been raised before and the court rejected the application” said the judge.
Etiaba, while replying to the issues raised by the court argued that “the two previous decisions of this court were based on the materials made available to the court at the time the applications were made”.
He argued that the materials presented in today’s application, were different.
The learned silk referred the court to the Supreme Court case of Nnadozie against Mbagwu, 2008, 3 Nigeria Weekly Report, part 1074, page 363, paragraph ‘H’, and argued that the “applications stand alone on new grounds and deserve a fresh consideration as it calls in new issues”.
While urging the court to grant the application, Etiaba stressed that, “In this application, the subject matter deals with leave to travel for health reasons and not to reopen previous application”.
Tochuckwu Onwugbufor, SAN, counsel to the second defendant (Destra Investment Limited), aligned himself with the argument and submission of Etiaba.
In response, Tahir urged the court to dismiss their application for lack of merit adding that the applicant had the duty to place sufficient material before the court to enable it exercise its discretion.
“This court has deferred applications of this nature, seeking for the release of his international passport, based on ill health.
“No circumstance has changed to make this application different from the previous ones. The only thing that has changed is the timing of the application; it is still the same ill health”, Tahir argued.
At this point, the court adjourned to March 15, 2018 for continuation of hearing.
Earlier in the proceeding, the ninth defence witness, Adebayo Bodunrin, a staff of DAAR Communications Plc, was presented by the defence for cross-examination.
While being cross-examined by Silvanus Tahir, counsel to the EFCC, Bodunrin told the court that he was paid over N7million for jingle.
According to him, the payment was in respect of the media services rendered by DAAR Communications Plc.
“I was invited by the then National Publicity Secretary of the PDP (Olisa Metuh) to meet with his media specialist to discuss the possibility of airing some jingles.
“In the course of my discussion with his media specialist, Mr. Richard, I insisted that we should be paid in cash because of our previous experiences of delayed payment” Bodunrin stated.
The DW9 further explained that the money was transferred into his account.
Thereafter, Tahir said that was all he had for the DW9.