N400m alleged fraud: Court admits Metuh’s account of expenditure subheads

The Federal High Court, Abuja, Tuesday, admitted in evidence, the final account tendered by the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, detailing expenditure subheads of the N400 million, which he averred was used for a special national assignment given to him by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The court also admitted in evidence, media publications wherein, in response to Metuh’s arrest and arraignment in 2016, the leadership of the PDP stated that the PDP did not in any way benefit from the fund, contrary to allegations that it was used for political activities of the party.

The documents, tendered by Metuh while being led in evidence in chief by his counsel, Abel Ozioko at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, were admitted as exhibits 21 and 22 respectively.

Metuh had on April 10, 2019, tendered a document detailing disbursements, names and signatures of individuals who received funds in execution of the national assignment, which was also admitted by the Court as Exhibit 20.

Continuing in his evidence, before Justice Okon Abang, Metuh said that he personally handed the final account to former President Jonathan who commended him for his thoroughness in executing the assignment, which according to him, entailed “intensive nationwide advocacy to douse the tension created by the problems of insurgency and sectional agitations, which posed threats to the conduct of the 2015 general election and the cooperate existence of our nation at that time.”

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Metuh told the court that no part of the N400 million was spent on any activity of the PDP, contrary to the claims of the EFCC, as his record of account and receipts of payments show that the entire fund was used for the national assignment as directed by President Jonathan.

According to Metuh, “President Jonathan had always insisted that the party must not benefit from government funding and that no government fund or asset must be used to promote or support the activities of the party,” adding that party officials strictly adhered to that.

Metuh further cleared the air on his earlier hesitation to give out the names of those who worked under him in the execution of the assignment to the EFCC but preferred to tender them in court.

He said such individuals included respected professionals in various fields, including university lecturers and he would not want them to suffer the embarrassment of unnecessary negative media report and misrepresentations at the time.

According to Metuh, “Exhibit D20 contains the names of professionals who worked with me and received funds in execution of the assignment. Because they accepted to participate in the assignment due to the confidence and trust they have in my integrity, I did not want them to suffer the humiliation of negative reports at the time.

“It was for this reason that I insisted that if there are any questions, repercussions, refunds or persecution to be suffered in that regard, it should be directed to me personally. That is the concept of leadership,” Metuh said.

The matter was adjourned to May 27, 28 and 30, 2019 for the continuation of trial.