Former national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, on Tuesday alleged that former President Goodluck Jonathan gave him N400 million before the 2015 presidential election.
Mr Metuh said this before a Federal High Court presided by Okon Abang.
Mr Metuh, who is facing a seven-count charge for alleged diversion of N400 million he received from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, said the money was credited to his account, ”after he exposed some of the challenges that faced Mr Jonathan’s re-election bid”.
Mr Metuh told the court that Mr Jonathan requested his account number after he watched a presentation on strategies the PDP needed to adopt if it was to neutralise the political influence of the then opposition All Progressives Congress.
According to Mr Metuh who mounted the witness box to testify in defence of the charge against him, among those that watched the Powerpoint presentation with Mr Jonathan, included the current vice presidential candidate of the opposition PDP, Peter Obi.
Others were the then Vice President, Namadi Sambo, then National Chairman of the PDP, Adamu Muazu, ex-Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke and a late chieftain of the party, Tony Anenih.
He said former President Jonathan was highly impressed with the presentation and assured that the party was in good financial standing to sponsor a ‘favourable’ media campaign.
“He requested that I should give him account details for him to send money to handle what he called ‘special assignment’. He said the success of the assignment would go a long way in ”determining the survival of our democracy, especially the holding of a peaceful election,” Mr Metuh said.
“The president also directed his aides, Reuben Abati, Doyin Okupe and Oronto Douglas, to work directly with me under the supervision of Mr Anenih.
“As we got to the car park, the National Chairman told me that since the president was comfortable with my proposal for the media campaign, he said I should come to his house with my bill, together with the National Financial Secretary.
“He directed the National Financial Secretary to approve my outstanding bills and to keep for emergencies for my media campaign. Subsequently, he approved the programme for the party’s media campaign”.
“The President later told me that he had paid N400 million to my account and that I should start the assignment immediately.
“I thanked him, and I directed Mr Sam Ben, my Executive Assistant, to call my account officer. We asked her whether I had N400 million inflow into my account.
“She took a couple of minutes and confirmed the payment of N400 million. Consequent upon that, we started the assignment,” he said.
When asked by his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, if he was aware of the source of the N400 million, Mr Metuh said: “I know the payment came from the President as a leader of the party and with assurances of the funds that he raised from his friends.
“It is normal that the leader or candidate in an election spends money and contributions that are mostly made directly to him. I knew that the leader of the party informed me that he made the payment of N400 million into my account,” Mr Metuh said.
He said he never knew that the EFCC was investigating him until his statement of account was published in a national daily.
“I became worried, so I called my account officer to ask her whether the EFCC is investigating my accounts and why the bank failed to inform me before giving the details of my account to the media.
“She promised to get a copy of the statement to me, but it was the same day that I was invited and arrested by EFCC.
“In the EFCC, when they showed me what they said was my account, they asked me whether I had any business with any government establishment. I wrote down, that to the best of my knowledge I had not done any contract or business with any government office within the last year.
“They asked me whether I met with Dasuki, whether I had business with him or the office of the ONSA.
“I again wrote down that I had no business with Dasuki or the office of the ONSA.”
Following the long narrative, Mr Abang paused him and said he had 19 cases to deal with for the day.
Mr Abang added that he would not waste the whole day listening only to Mr Metuh’s narrative.
Meanwhile, the EFCC’s lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, urged the court to compel Mr Metuh to close his defence.
Mr Tahir alleged that Mr Metuh who commenced his defence since July 6, 2018, was deliberately stalling his trial with “irrelevant stories” that has no bearing to the charge against him.
Before that, Mr Abang adjourned till March 4 for a continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, EFCC had alleged that the said money was electronically wired from an account that ONSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to Mr Metuh, through Account No. 0040437573, which his firm operated with Diamond Bank Plc.
The EFCC told the court that the fund which was released to Mr Metuh and his firm by Mr Dasuki was part of about $2.1 billion earmarked for the purchase of arms to fight an insurgency in the North-east.
Besides, the prosecution which had earlier closed its case after it called eight witnesses that testified before the court, equally alleged that Mr Metuh was involved in an illicit transaction that involved the exchange of $2 million.
Mr Metuh had at the last adjourned date, alleged that Mr Buhari ”was determined to jail him at all cost”.
He told the court that his trial was a calculated attempt by the APC to silence him for criticising Mr Buhari’s dictatorial tendencies.
He told the court that top APC members had before the time the EFCC arrested and subsequently charged him for fraud, tried to dissuade him from attacking President Buhari in the media.
Mr Metuh told the court that some of the APC members, met him on several occasions in Dubai, Switzerland and Paris to discuss possible roles they could play to strengthen the PDP to wrestle power from President Buhari.
He said the top APC members, who he did not disclose their identities, equally complained of Mr Buhari’s governance style, saying they had lost confidence in his administration.
Mr Metuh said after he refused to soft-pedal on his criticisms, he started receiving warnings to be cautious of a possible attack and ‘judicial witchhunt’.