Absence of Olisa Metuh’s lawyer forces adjournment of trial

Olisa Metuh
Olisa Metuh

The Abuja Division of the Federal High on Thursday adjourned the trial of a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh following the defendant’s absence.

The court refused granting a long adjournment as requested by the defence after Mr Metuh’s fall on May 21.

Mr Metuh is facing a seven-count charge before the court for alleged diversion of N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

The former PDP spokesperson, who was diagnosed of having spinal cord injuries, fell while walking towards the dock on May, 21.

On Tuesday when the case resumed, Mr Metuh did not appear in court.

His lawyers linked his absence to his health condition and applied for an adjournment of the trial, till Mr Metuh is said to fit for trial, by the hospital.

But the prosecution objected to the application.

When the court resumed on Wednesday, the trial judge, Okon Abang, ruled that the trial should continue, saying there is still no valid evidence before the court for the defendant’s absence.

Mr Abang said the first defendant’s fall on Monday was deceitful, describing it as something planned or calculated.
According to Mr Abang, Mr Metuh did not collapse in the court room on Monday but rather fell on his own while walking towards the dock, after ignoring the directives of the court.

“And while on the floor, he made series of groans which stopped the proceedings making the court room look like an accident scene.

“There was no attempt even by those he came with to raise him, which also delayed the proceeding for 29 minutes.

“It is a complete disregard and disobedience to the court and so the defendant has jumped bail, as there is no reasonable application for the defendant’s absence.

When the matter was called on Thursday, the first defendant’s counsel, Emeka Eliana, was not in court. The prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, then asked the court for a short recess to allow for some time until the first defendant’s counsel appears in court.

The second defendant’s lawyer, Tochukwu Onwugbufor, did not object tp the application for a stand down.

Responding, however, the judge, Okon Abang, said his court would rather adjourn the case to Friday and avoid waiting for Mr Eliana. “I have considered the application of learned counsel for the prosecution for a stand down of this matter at the instance of the first defendant counsel. The application is not opposed by my learned senior defendant for the second defendant counsel.

“It is my humble view that I am not inclined to stand down this matter at the instance of the first defendant, rather I am inclined to adjourn this matter for continuation of trial.

“This matter is thereby adjourned to 25th May 2018, for continuation of the hearing of the case of the first defendant,” he said.

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