The prosecution counsel in the trial of former Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, has objected to what he described as the overstretching of needless detail by the defendant in his trial.
Mr Metuh is facing trial on alleged diversion of N400 million from the office of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
He was brought to court on a seven-count charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on January 15, 2016.
After the prosecution closed its case barely a month later, Mr Metuh was expected to begin his defence but argued that he had no case to answer, a claim that was overruled by the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, venue of his trial under Justice Okon Abang.
Dissatisfied with the Federal High Court ruling, Mr Metuh appealed the decision at both the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court.
Both courts however refused Mr Metuh’s application, resulting in his presentation of 15 witnesses, including including a former presidential aide, Doyin Okupe, who gave a personal account of when the alleged diverted fund was paid to Mr Metuh, following a discussion of the PDP leadership in November 2014.
Mr Metuh’s defence has also been affected by his health condition.
As the 15th defence witness, Mr Metuh began testifying personally before the court.
His personal evidence began briefly in July, but was postponed till October 22.
On that day, however, Mr Metuh could not continue with his testimony because of a prolonged debate by lawyers over the absence of a principal defence lawyer, Tocbukwu Onwubufor.
On October 23, Mr Metuh continued his testimony and in a rather long tale, narrated his journey into politics and his relationship with past leaders, like Olusegun Obasanjo. He did not reach the stage of discussing the allegation against him before the end of the hearing that day.
On October 24, Mr Metuh again started testifying about his emergence as the PDP spokesperson, but did not mention the details about his charge.
On Thursday, the testimony appeared to be taking a similar direction with the previous days, as Mr Metuh delved into discussions on how he started what he described as an internal opposition in a bid to make PDP leaders more aware about the views of some groups within the party.
In reaction to the seeming prolonged testimony, the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, asked the court to use its discretion to prevent Mr Metuh from proceeding with what Mr Tahir described as remote facts.
“We have waited patiently. This court is a court of record,” he said. “The court has been patient. The evidence given should be in conformity with the charge against the defendant.
“We invite your lordship to know that the charges brought against the defendant bother on seven counts. He is alleged to have diverted N400 million, allegedly gotten from the office of the NSA, being the proceeds of an unlawful act. The other components of the charge deals with the diversion of the sum of N2 million, US dollars.
“These are basically the charge for which the accused person stands trial. Going by the oral testimony of the defendant so far, this should be the fourth day.
“No attempt has been has been made discuss the issue for which he is in court,” said Mr Tahir.
He urged the court to take note of sections in the Evidence Act, relating to the presentation of evidence.
“Evidence may be given in any suit of the proceedings of the existence of every fact to the issue. The court may exclude facts which is considered to be too remote,” he said.
“Some of the things been said are not relevant and are too remote to the case.”
In a reaction, Mr Metuh’s lawyer, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, urged the court to also consider the provisions of the constitution which makes it obligatory for the court to give fair hearing to all sides.
In a ruling, however, Mr Abang said he would determine the irrelevant part of the evidence at the end of the matter.
“It is my view that it is not out of place for the objection of this nature to be raised. The objection of the SAN is also noted,” Mr Abang said.
“I cannot at this stage determine which evidence is relevant and remote. It is like urgiing the court to determine a substantive issue at an interlocutory application.
“It will be at the end of the proceedings that the court will determine whether the evidence if valid or not. If the evidence of relevant, it will reflect in the judgment.”
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