Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, Monday, expressed displeasure over various means being employed by the defence team of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, in the on-going N400 million fraud case against him.
The Economic and Financila Crimes Commission (EFCC), is prosecuting Metuh before Justice Abang for allegedly receiving N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in 2014, to run advocacy campaign for former President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.
EFCC acting Spokesperson, Mr Tony, in a press statement in Abuja, said Justice Abang observed the various adjournments at the instance of the 1st defendant as an attempt to prolong, frustrate, and scuttle the matter entirely; especially since defence team handed over the matter to A.C. Oziakor.
He said the judge added that the major reason for employing Oziakor’s services was to frustrate the trial.
The trial of Metuh was stalled Wednesday, April 10, 2019, due to absence of counsel to the 1st defendant, A.O. Onsiowu.
He said at the resumed sitting on Monday, the Prosecuting Counsel, S. Tahir, told the court that the prosecution was ready for the continuation of the trial adding that the 15th defence witness, who is also the 1st defendant in the matter, is in the dock for cross examination.
The spokesperson said Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), also informed the court of their readiness to proceed.
However, Metuh’s counsel, who was absent in court sent a letter to the court seeking another adjournment because he had another matter at the State High Court Adamawa, Yola state.
The counsel attached a copy of his flight ticket to Yola to the letter.
The case had witnessed four different adjournments which has always been granted.
However, the prosecution counsel, opposed the application adding that the trial has suffered enough adjournment.
“My Lord, we were served the letter around 8:45am and we have gone through it my Lord and I vehemently oppose the adjournment, on a normal day, a prosecution ought not to oppose to such application seeking court indulgence for an adjournment. But in this case, I am constrained to oppose the application seeking another adjournment,” he stated.
Giving reasons for opposing the application for adjournment, Tahir noted that the letter seeking for the adjournment is dated May 13, and signed personally by the learned counsel to the 1st defendant, adding that the supposed copy of flight ticket attached to the letter reads and expressly stated that the trip to Yola, as shown on the ticket contradicts the May 15, 2019.
“My Lord, one wonders if there is good faith or truth for someone who is supposed to be in Yola on May 13, and this sitting is for May 20, yet the letter was personally signed on May 15, by same counsel,,” Tahir said.
Meanwhile, after hearing the submission of the prosecution counsel, Justice Abang thereafter ruled that the adjournment for the continuation of trial is at the discretion of the court, adding that the adjournment is not automatic and it is not usually granted on a platter of gold.
The matter was adjourned to May 21, 2019, for continuation of trial even though it is not convenient for the court to adjourn but in the interest of justice.
Justice Abang, however, added that frivolous application for adjournment shall no longer be entertained.