UPDATE: Court sentences Olisa Metuh to 39 years in prison

The Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday, convicted and sentenced a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Olisa Metuh, to a total of 39 years imprisonment.

Metuh, who was convicted on all the seven counts criminal charges brought against him by the federal government will, however, spend only seven years in prison as his sentence will run concurrently as ordered by the court.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, in a judgment that lasted over four hours yesterday held that the former PDP spokesman knew that the inflow of the sum of N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) into the Diamond Bank account of his company, Destra Investment Limited, was proceedings of unlawful activities of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Abang, in the judgment, also ordered that Metuh should forfeit the sum N375 million and another N25 million to the federal government and ordered that Destra Investment Limited (Second convict) be wound up, all its accounts with the Diamond Bank closed and all the money therein to be forfeited to the federal government.

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Justice Abang sentenced Metuh to seven years in count one, seven years in count two, five years in count three, seven years in count four, three years in count five, three years in count six and seven years in count seven and ordered that the judgment will run concurrently.

The court found the former PDP spokesman guilty of unlawfully taking possession and diversion of the sum of N400 million from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and used same for the funding of political activities of the PDP and his personal use.

The Court rejected the claim of Metuh that former President Goodluck Jonathan approved the release of the money to him for the execution of a national assignment bordering on security issue, adding that throughout the trial, the convict did not show any contract document his company entered with ONSA to justify the payment to him.

Although, Metuh claimed that the money was released to him on the instruction of former President Jonathan, Justice Abang held that the convict abandoned his struggle to invite the former president to give evidence in his favour, while Dasuki, who was in court as his witness was not of help as he said he has lost his memory on the issue.

The judge also agreed with EFCC lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, that the convict ought to have reasonably known that the N400 million was a proceed of fraud because there was no contract paper or procurement to justify the release of the money to him.

Justice Abang also held that the ways and manners in which the N400 million was disbursed by Metuh did not leave anybody in doubt that public fund was recklessly used to fund PDP campaign in the 2015 general elections.

Among others, the Judge found as facts that Metuh gave N25 million to Abba Dabo for media advocacy on 2015 election, N21.7 million to late Chief Tony Anenih, N5 million to Mrs. Kema Chikwe, a former Aviation minister, N31.5 million to Richard Ihediwa, N50 million to Kanayo Olisa-Metuh and another N200 million to Daniel Ford International, while N50 million was also transferred to his wife’s personal account.

Justice Abang held that the claim of Metuh that the N400 million was for national security assignment cannot stand in the face of the law in view of the fact that the money was deployed to the political activities of his party.

The court also found Metuh guilty of concealment of $2 million cash, which source was not established throughout the four year trial of the charges and held that Metuh ran afoul of the law when he released $1 million to one Kabiru Ibrahim and collected naira equivalent of N183 million deposited into the Destra Investment account with Diamond bank.

In invoking section 15(3) of Money Laundering and Prohibition Act 2011as amended in 2012 to sentence Metuh to 39 years imprisonment, the judge lambasted Metuh for destroying page three of his confessional statement made to the EFCC to cover up his admission that there was no contract paper for the purported security contract and no contractual relationship with the ONSA at the time the N400 million was released to him, through his company.

Justice Abang disagreed with the defence that there should be evidence of conviction of Dasuki for corrupt and breach of trust before Metuh can be charged for money laundering.

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