Tuesday, 24 May 2016

EFCC opposes Metuh’s application for permission to travel abroad

A defence witness, Mr. Anthony Okeke, in the ongoing trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, told a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday that  former President Goodluk Jonathan’s image was battered by the then opposition All Progressives Congress’ “smear campaign.”

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, also fixed Wednesday for ruling on an application by Metuh seeking an order of the court to release his passport which was seized as part of his bail condition to  permit him to travel  to the United Kingdom for medical treatment.
The EFCC also opposed Metuh’s application to proceed to the United Kingdom for a five-week medical trip.
Okeke, who mounted the witness box on Monday as the fourth defence witness, is a lawyer and  a former Acting National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, who handed over to Metuh in September 2013.
He said the opposition party’s campaign dealt a great blow to Jonathan’s image so much that many consultants were needed to change public perception about the former President ahead of the 2015 presidential election.
The witness, who said he had served the PDP in many capacities at the state, zonal and national levels,  said the opposition “cleverly” tagged Jonathan as an ineffective and unserious President.
He added that it was not surprising when he learnt that N400m was authorised by the then President for the countering of the opposition’s campaign.
Okeke, who was led in evidence by Metuh’ lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), and later cross-examined by Destra’s lawyer, Tochukwu Nwugbufor (SAN), said no money was passed to him when he took the office as acting National Publicity Secretary of the party on June 20, 2013.
The defence counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, elected not to cross-examine the witness.
After Okeke was discharged from the witness box, the defence called the fifth witness, Mr. Richard Ihediwa.
Ihediwa, a journalist, narrated how he was appointed by Metuh as his (Metuh’s) Special Assistant in January 2013 before the judge suspended his testimony in order to hear an application by the PDP’s spokesperson seeking the court’s order permitting him to travel to the United Kingdom on health grounds.
Meanwhile, the EFCC opposed the motion by Metuh on Monday.
Tahir said Metuh failed to place any material before the court to warrant the granting of the application, as the medical report accompanying his motion was allegedly not certified.
The lawyer argued that Metuh only sought to travel abroad as a matter of preference, adding that there were hospitals in the country that could treat his ailment.
Citing some precedent decisions of higher courts, Tahir urged the judge to dismiss the 1st defendant’s motion.
Metuh, by his motion filed on May 16, seeks orders directing the court’s registrar to release his passport to him and to permit him to travel to the United Kingdom for five weeks to get treatment.
While the defence maintained that the court had jurisdiction to “vary” its order earlier seizing Metuh’s passport, the EFCC lawyer, Tahir, maintained that since the defence failed to specifically  ask for the variation of the bail conditions, the court lacked the jurisdiction to grant the prayers.
The judge fixed Wednesday for ruling on the application but adjourned till Tuesday for continuation of trial.





Punch

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