I’m ready to return the entire N400m —Metuh

The embattled former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Thursday, restated his readiness to refund the entire N400 million paid to him by the former President Goodluck Jonathan for image laundering prior to the 2015 presidential election.

The former PDP spokesman, in a statement by his counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, in Abuja, declared support for the fight against corruption by the present administration.

Metuh said he was willing to refund the entire N400 million, regardless of the fact that the money had already been expended on the directive of the former president and that the Economic Financial and Crimes Commission (EFCC) had already recovered part of the fund from a prosecution witness.

The counsel confirmed that the defence team had been holding discussion with the Ministry of Justice, the EFCC and other necessary bodies on how to refund the money and resolve the issue.

Ikpeazu said in the statement that it had become obvious from the evidence of prosecution and defence witnesses that at the time the money was released to Metuh after his presentation to former President  Jonathan, he had no knowledge of the source, but had every cause to believe that the money was from the ex-president, to whom he made presentation, received directives and rendered report and accounts accordingly.

“When the matter first came up and Chief Metuh was invited to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in December 2015, he requested to know the source of the money and expressed his readiness to make refund if it was from government coffers, not minding that the money had been expended as directed by the former president. Officials at ONSA never got back to him as they promised, until his arrest by the EFCC in January 2016.

“It was, however, while in court that a document was brought regarding the source of the money and since then, our client had made manifest his willingness to refund the money and had, indeed, approached his family, friends and associates to mobilise funds to refund the entire N400 million to the government, regardless of the fact that the money had been expended based on the directives of the former president and that part of the money had been recovered from one of the prosecution witnesses.

“We want to confirm that since then, we have been in talks with the Ministry of Justice, the EFCC and other necessary bodies, on how to refund the money and resolve the issue,” Ikpeazu said.

Stating that Chief Metuh was more of a victim of circumstances, Ikpeazu said refunding the entire sum was in line with Metuh’s support of the ongoing war against corruption in the country.

“Our client occupied no government office. His commitment and dedication to his official duties have been confirmed by even prosecution witnesses. In this whole saga, he has been an unfortunate victim of circumstances. His refunding the money, therefore, goes to show his support for the anti-corruption war, as well as serve as a testament to his sincerity, integrity and honesty in this matter.

“There is no doubt that the prosecution has considerably embarked on some expenses in the course of this case. It is hoped that by not discounting the sum already recovered, whatever cost so far incurred would have been defrayed. By this, a critical objective of recovery of funds would no doubt be achieved.

“It is pertinent to restate our client’s continued support for the anti-corruption campaign, which is necessary to ensure probity in the affairs of Nigeria, to the extent that it is conducted within the rule of law,” the statement said.

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