An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has closed the case of a former Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, in his absence.
Mr Metuh is facing trial for alleged diversion of N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
His is being tried alongside his company, Dextra investment.
Mr Metuh fell while proceeding to the dock on May 21 and has not appeared in court since that day. His lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, had asked the court to adjourn the matter, following the incident, adding that the first defendant required time to recover from his ill-health.
Mr Metuh was diagnosed as having spinal cord injuries, a development which reportedly worsened after he fell from a chair during a meeting of his party members three months after his trial began in April, 2016.
Mr Metuh, who first appeared on a stretcher in February, has also requested the leave of court to travel abroad for medication.
Following Mr Metuh’s fall on May, 21, Mr Etiaba indicated his decision to recuse himself from the matter after the judge, Okon Abang, decided to continue the trial with Mr Metuh lying on the floor.
Mr Etiaba’s request to withdraw was, however, refused by the court which described it as an attempt to delay the trial.
Mr Etiaba also repeated the request for a long adjournment on May 22, accusing the judge of favouritism.
The court, on May 23, overruled Mr Etiaba’s request for the long adjournment after Mr Abang declared that Mr Metuh’s fall was a mischievous ploy to delay the trial and ”a blatant disregard for court orders”.
After the ruling on May 23, Mr Etiaba has not appeared in court.
On Friday, the court completed its hearing of the testimonies from the 11th witness for the first defendant and discharged the witness, after ruling that Mr Etiaba has relinquished his rights to re-examine the witness.
“The first defendant on January 19 filed for an adjournment to call additional witnesses. On February, 20 the court said it would not grant further adjournment to allow the first defendant present his witnesses. The proposed witnesses shall be in court at all times.
“The first defendant’s counsel is not in court. Again there is no application from the first defendant for an adjournment. No excuse was given. In fact, it is an independent decision by the first defendant’s counsel not to appear in court,” Mr Abang said.
Citing a previous Supreme Court decision, Mr Abang said the apex court had ruled that: ”where no excuse is offered by a counsel, no adjournment should be granted.”
“The first defendant’s counsel abandoned proceedings,” Mr Abang ruled.
The judge further said Mr Etiaba himself would not have succeeded in propelling the court to grant an adjournment.
“Even if the first defendant’s counsel was in court, it would have been an uphill task. It would have been easier for the first defendant’s counsel to lay claim to becoming pregnant, than for him to seek an adjournment on the matter.
“The case of the first defendant is hereby closed.”
The court also addressed a legal representative of Channels Television, Kelechi Nwaiwu, on the allegations made against the station and a defence counsel, by the prosecution.
Mr Nwaiwu told the court that he had come with a copy of a programme reportedly aired on channels where the said allegation took place.
Mr Abang subsequently adjourned the matter saying the court will entertain testimonies from the second defence witness on July 2.