THE Appeal Court in Abuja on Wednesday, December 16, nullified the seven-year sentence given to Olisa Metuh, former national publicity secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Okon Abang, justice of the Federal High Court in Abuja, said that the ruling in the case of Metu showed bias.
Realnews reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had arraigned Metuh on seven counts of money laundering for allegedly receiving N400 million from the office of the national security adviser. Although Metu’s case was expeditiously tried, Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser who gave Metu the money to party expenses, has been held under house arrest since 2015.
On February 25, the trial court pronounced him guilty on all counts of money laundering and sentenced him to seven years in prison.
Realnews recalls that Benchuks Nwosu, counsel to Metuh, in a statement issued on Monday, March 20, accused the ruling the All Progressives Congress, APC, federal government officials and sympathisers of the government in power, of sponsoring uncomplimentary reports about his client.
He said it was more disturbing that there were direct threat, harassment and intimidation of medical personnel and institutions involved in the treatment and management of Metuh’s ill-health.
There were fears over Metuh’s state of health when anonymous source disclosed that he was rushed to a medical facility in Anambra following a sudden breakdown.
Following the breakdown, Metu, failed to appear for his trial at an Abuja High Court on January 22.
Metu, who was admitted at the Intensive Care Unit, ICU, of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, NAUTH, Nnewi, because of his illness which was confirmed by Prof. Anthony Igwegbe, chief medical director, CMD of NAUTH, said that he was on admission at the hospital, but declined further comments.
Nwosu alleged that he had instances and evidence of the APC controlled agents and agencies directly interfering with the various hospitals that had admitted Metuh in the past two months. He alleged that the latest of the antics was the letter written by the APC to the Wellington Hospital, London, U.K, depicting him as an enemy of the Nigerian state and that he should not be given medical treatment abroad.
“A simple Google search on Dr. Adrian Casey would have revealed his profile including his references in the Wellington Hospital website. However, these individuals were actually more interested in continuing with the ridicule and media trial of our client and to go further to create controversies even with his last hope for medical succour. Are they just more interested in ensuring that he must be denied access to medical treatment at all cost?” he said.
Besides, he recalled that the APC and government officials had launched a massive campaign to ridicule, mock and make cruel jokes of Metuh’s appearance on a stretcher and subsequently in a wheelchair in his obedience to the rulings and orders of Justice Okon Abang.
“These people are quite aware that the learned judge had ruled that he will no longer accept medical reports from any doctor in Nigeria. On the same day, the court ordered that Metuh must appear in court at the next adjourned date and the only clear choice for a bedridden person would be to appear in Court with his hospital bed or in a stretcher.
“The clear fact, as evidenced by his MRI report, is that Olisa Metuh has severe spondylosis with disc herniations, cord and nerve root compressions in his Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbosacral spine. This has resulted in semi-paralysis and we have even gone further in open Court to request that the prosecution be allowed to conduct their own independent clinical examination of the person involved.
“Our Client has not left the confines of a hospital or his own bedroom for the past two months except to attend court proceedings. He spent several hours in court on the 14th of March, 2018 and had to be taken straight to hospital to be sedated with pentadine injection and other strong pain killers. In order to be present in Court on subsequent days (15th and 16th of March 2018) he also had to take the strong pain killer injections early morning before the sittings. This however, resulted in our Client being semi-drowsy on the 15th and 16th and was clearly unable to even observe or follow the proceedings in open court.
“In any case, are these people not aware that it is only in Chief Olisa Metuh’s matter that the issue of release of passport for an accused person has been such an impossibility?
“Just last week, a court released the passport of an accused person being prosecuted by the same EFCC to enable him attend a conference abroad. Others have been allowed to go for medical check- up abroad and even for pilgrimage. The same Court had also granted some other accused persons facing charges the same indulgence being denied Chief Olisa Metuh.
“We believe strongly that these media trials are geared towards convincing the public that a man whose charge is that he “reasonably ought to have known” that the money given to him was part of an unlawful activity of another individual who has not even been questioned, investigated or charged is already guilty and convicted even before he has given his evidence in the matter,” he said.
In any case, he said Metuh had pleaded not guilty to the charges and that he had also shown respect to the Nigerian legal system in all his actions and conducts. Thus, his only plea now is to be allowed to attend his worsening ailment.
The lawyer noted that the former PDP spokesman had suffered humiliation and pain simply by being obedient to court orders.
That notwithstanding, he pleaded that: “The fight against corruption does not imply persecution, manifest wickedness and lynch mob approach to particular individuals”.
. – Dec. 16, 2020 @ 17:50 GMT /