Law News
EFCC re-arraigns Metuh for obstruction of operatives today

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has amended the charges of destruction of evidence filed before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, against the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh.

With the amendment, another count of obstruction of officers of the commission has been added to the initial two, and the PDP spokesperson will be made to take a fresh plea to all the three counts when the matter comes up before Justice Ishaq Bello on Friday (today).

The amended charge has been filed before the FCT High Court and served on Metuh’s lawyers on Thursday.

Before the amendment, the EFCC had on January 21 arraigned Metuh on two counts, including destruction of his statement on January 5, 2016, allegedly to prevent it (the statement) from being tendered as evidence against him in court.

In the second count, Metuh was accused of “mischief,” which he was said to have committed by allegedly tearing the said statement “with the intent to cause wrongful loss or damage to the property of the EFCC.”

He had pleaded not guilty to the two counts, and the trial judge, Justice Bello, had fixed Friday for trial.

But the defendant will have to take a fresh plea with the fresh amendment to the charges.

Metuh was said to have torn a statement, which he made to the commission under caution on January 5, while he was being investigated for the charges of alleged fraud bordering on the N400m which he collected from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014.

However, under the additional third count, the PDP chief is accused of obstructing officials of the EFCC on the same day.

According to the anti-graft agency, the said offence is contrary to and punishable under Section 38(2) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004.

The law provides for a punishment with a maximum of a five-year jail term or N20,000 fine or both imprisonment and fine.

Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday fixed March 9 to decide on whether or not Metuh had a case to answer with respect to the charges of fraud and money laundering instituted against him by the EFCC.

The judge, also on Thursday, dismissed a suit by Metuh, challenging his trial for the two separate charges instituted against him before the Federal High Court and the FCT High Court.

Justice Abang dismissed the case for lack of diligent prosecution and ordered Metuh to pay N20,000 each to four out of the six defendants, including the EFCC.

Apart from the EFCC, the beneficiaries of the total sum of N80,000 which Metuh was ordered to pay, are the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of the Police and the Nigerian Immigration Service.

Justice Abang on Thursday adjourned the fraud and money laundering case till March 9 after counsel representing the parties in the case adopted their written submissions for and against Metuh’s no-case submission.

The EFCC is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, on seven counts of alleged N400m fraud and money laundering.

The EFCC accused the defendants of fraudulently receiving from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014 the sum of N400m meant for the procurement of arms.

It also accused Metuh of laundering $2m.

The prosecution alleged that part of the N400m received from ONSA was used by Metuh to fund the PDP’s presidential campaign for the 2015 election in which former President Goodluck Jonathan was the party’s candidate.

After the prosecution closed its case, Metuh on February 18, sought and obtained the leave of the court to file a no-case submission.

In the no-case submission, Metuh urged the court to discharge and acquit him on the grounds that the EFCC had made no case against him with the eight prosecution witnesses called and all the documents tendered.

At the hearing on Thursday, Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), urged the court to discharge and acquit his client, arguing that the prosecution had led no credible evidence linking him (Metuh) to the alleged crime.

But the EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, maintained that the prosecution had led credible evidence through its eight witnesses and documents tendered before the court, warranting the court to direct the defendants to “give their own side of the story.”

The judge then adjourned the case for either ruling or judgment, depending on the merit or otherwise of the application by Metuh.

Justice Abang ruled, “The court will be adjourned for either ruling or judgment.

“If the no-case application succeeds, the court will deliver judgment and the charge will be struck out; and the defendants will be discharged.

“In the event that the court overrules the application, then the court will deliver ruling, dismissing the applicant’s no-case submission.

“The court, on the same day, will call on the defendants to enter their defence.

“In the light of this, this matter is hereby adjourned till March 9 for ruling or judgment as the case may be.”

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