By Andrew Orolua, Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday expressed displeasure as to the various means being employed by the defence team to frustrate the trial of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh.
Metuh is standing trial before the court over alleged N400 million money laundering fraud at the office of the national security adviser.
Justice Abang said that the various adjournments at the instance of Metuh were attempts to prolong, frustrate and scuttle the trial entirely, especially since the defence team handed over the matter to A.C. Oziakor.
The judge added that the major reason for employing Oziakor’s services was to frustrate the trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Metuh before Justice Abang for allegedly receiving N400 million from national security adviser’s office in 2014 to run advocacy campaigns for former President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The trial of Metuh was stalled on April 10 due to the absence of his counsel, A.O. Onsiowu.
At the resumed sitting yesterday, the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir told the court the prosecution was ready for the continuation of trial, adding that the 15thdefence witness, Metuh is in the dock for cross examination. While counsel to the second defendant, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) also informed the court of their readiness to proceed.
But, Metuh’s counsel, Oziakor, who was absent in court sent a letter to the court which was served to all parties involved, seeking another adjournment because he has another matter at the state High Court in Yola, Adamawa state.
He attached a copy of his flight ticket to Yola to the letter. It will be recalled that the case has witnessed four different adjournments which has always been granted.
However, the prosecution counsel opposed the fresh application, adding that the trial has suffered enough adjournments.
“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 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 Metuh’s counsel, adding that the supposed copy of flight ticket attached to the letter states that the trip to Yola, as shown on the ticket contradicts the May 15 date.
After hearing the submission of the prosecution counsel, Justice Abang 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 for continuation of trial and Justice Abang warned that any further frivolous application for adjournment shall no longer be entertained.