Alleged N400m fraud: Face trial, Appeal Court tells Metuh

THE Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal brought before it by the immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh.

The appellate court, in a unanimous judgment delivered on Wednesday, held that it was satisfied that the former PDP spokesman had a case to answer pertaining to the N400 million transferred from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), into the account of Destra Investment Limited, a company allegedly belonging to him.

The unanimous judgment of the three-member panel of justices of the appellate court, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) established a prima facie case to warrant explanations from Metuh.

The appellate court held that the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, of the Federal High Court in Abuja, was right when he dismissed Metuh’s no-case submission.
“From evidence adduced before the trial court, can it be said that the first defendant has no-case to answer?

“The case of the prosecution has raised several questions that only the defendant can answer. It is evident that from testimonies of the eight witnesses called by the prosecution that issues of fact were raised to warrant explanations from the appellant.

“There is need for the defendant to either accept or deny the allegations against him,” the appellate court held in the judgment.
Justice Aboki, who read the lead judgment, maintained that the prosecution have closed its case and the burden of defence shifted to the appellant (Metuh), who he said was “entitled to give explanations as to what actually transpired.

“There is no merit in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed,” Justice Aboki held.
The appellants prayed the appellate court to quash the charge against them on the premise that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

They further wanted the appellate court to hold that trial Justice Abang erred in law when he, not only dismissed their no-case submission, but also ordered them to open their defence to the charge.

Meanwhile, Metuh’s lead counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, in his reaction, said his client, Chief Metuh, had since opened his defence at the Federal High Court, saying “after due consultation with their client, he will instruct them on the next action, as he has the right of appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, dismissed the application brought before it by Metuh, seeking permission to travel abroad for medical attention.

The former spokesman of the PDP had, on Monday, through his counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, sought the permission of the court, via an application dated May 16, 2016 to travel to the United Kingdom (UK) for medical attention.

The prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, who strongly opposed to the application for the release of Metuh’s passport said, even though the court has jurisdiction to grant the prayers of the defence, the prayers were not properly made.

Delivering his ruling on the application on Wednesday, the trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang held that there was fear that if Metuh was allowed to travel abroad, he might abscond and would not be available to face his trial.