Judge threatens to discharge Olisa Metuh; attacks prosecution, defence lawyers

Former Peoples Democratic Party, spokesperson, Olisa Metuh on the floor.
Former Peoples Democratic Party, spokesperson, Olisa Metuh on the floor.

There was drama in court on Monday after former Peoples Democratic Party, spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, on trial for alleged fraud, collapsed in the court room.

The judge, apparently frustrated by the actions of the prosecution and defence teams, also threatened to discharge the accused.

Mr Metuh is facing trial for alleged diversion of N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

He is facing, alongside his company, Dextra Investment, a seven-count charge for the alleged offence.

Mr Metuh has been brought to court on a stretcher several times, since February this year.

His lawyers had told the court in 2016 that Mr Metuh has an injury in his spinal cord after he fell from a chair during a meeting with his party members and was taken to the National Hospital, Abuja.

Shortly after the fall, Mr Metuh’s team of lawyers made an application for him to be allowed to travel abroad for proper treatment of the injury.

Several attempts by the lawyers, led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, for the defendant to be allowed to travel, failed.

After the judge, Okon Abang, questioned the authenticity of a medical report signed by a Nigerian doctor from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Hospital, the lawyers contacted a doctor from a London-based hospital and obtained another medical report, in a bid to secure the court’s approval for Mr Metuh to be allowed to travel abroad for treatment.

The court, however, refused the application on the grounds that Mr Metuh did not appeal its previous decision refusing him to travel for medical reasons.

After arriving the court, in an ambulance on Monday,the defendant was called to the dock as usual but fell flat to the ground while approaching the dock which was quite close to his seat.

Before Mr Metuh’s fall, the judge, Mr Abang, noted his steps and asked that the defendant remained on his seat, but Mr Metuh appeared to have reached the floor, before hearing the order.

Shortly after he fell to the floor, the judge stood down the matter to allow for medical practitioners to access the defendant.

A medical doctor working with the court arrived the court room and assessed the defendant for a short while, before the case was recalled.

After recalling the matter, Mr Abang asked three of his court officials to explain what had happened.

According to the court officials, “Mr Metuh defied the warnings of the judge to remain on his seat but insisted on entering the dock.”

Mr Abang then ordered the defence team to proceed with the day’s plan, by calling its witness.

Responding, however, Mr Etiaba informed the court that he would like to recuse himself from the matter.

Mr Etiaba explained that the manner in which the case was proceeding, had forced him to consider suspending his appearance as a counsel in the matter.

The request by the defence lawyer further infuriated Mr Abang who overruled it and attempted to proceed with the trial by directing questions to Mr Etiaba on the matter.

The defence lawyer, however, refused to provide answers to the said questions.

Mr Abang also frowned at the prosecution’s refusal to object to the request for adjournment as well as the withdrawal of Mr Etiaba.

The judge threatened to discharge the defendant, if the prosecution was unwilling to “seriously prosecute his case.”

He adjourned the matter till Tuesday.

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