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Published On: Tue, Feb 25th, 2020

Alleged N400m fraud: Court decides Metuh’s fate Today

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Metuh

By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, will today, deliver judgment in the trial of former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh.
Chief Metuh, who was arrested on January 15, 2016 by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), is answering a seven count charge of crime boarding on money laundering to the tune of N400 million, received from the office of the National Security Adviser, in the buildup of 2015, general election.
The money, according to the prosecution, was part of $2.1billion allegedly earmarked for arms deal.
The prosecution agency maintained that the defendant should have known that the money, which was wired through his private company Dextra Investment Limited, came from the proceed of loot by the then NSA boss, Dasuki Sambo.
In their addresses, the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, urged the court to convict Metuh based on evidence established against him.
Tahir maintained that his team had proved all the offences charged beyond reasonable doubt, as he called on the judge to pass a guilty verdict on the defendants.
He submitted that under that law, “there is nowhere that prosecution must prove predicate offence before money laundering Offences can be proved.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution called eight witnesses to prove why Metuh should be be sent to prison.
Metuh, through his counsel, Mr. Abel Ozioko, urged the court to discharge and acquits him as the prosecution has failed woefully in establishing any case against him.
Metuh called 15 witnesses to prove his innocence of the money laundering charges brought against him by the prosecution agency.
The court had in 2018 issued an order for Metuh to close his case, but had to vacate it to enable him call more witnesses.
On September 27, 2019, Metuh who testified as the 15th witness in his matter, told the court under cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, that there was never an instance where former President Goodluck Jonathan directly gave any money to him.
He further posited that his collection of N400 million from Col. Sambo Dasuki (former NSA) was for a national assignment as directed by the then president.
The prosecution counsel presented a Diamond Bank document which captured the details of the transactions carried out by Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited.
The defendant submitted that a total of 11 witnesses including a prosecution witness have testified as receiving various sums of money from Metuh both in cash and cheques as contained in exhibit G20, which has remained an unchallenged evidence.
He submitted that the testimony of Metuh was collaborated by witnesses to the fact that former President Goodluck Jonathan gave him an assignment on security issues, which was not challenged by the prosecution.
Ozioko further urged the court to note that exhibit B E, which is the e-payment mandate with certification shows that all payments with regards to the N400m complied with the statutory requirement.
He submitted that instead of vilifying former President Jonathan, he should take credit for the manner in which he handled the insecurity situation in the country before the 2015 elections using Metuh to achieve peace and oneness for the country.
The defence lawyer further submitted that the prosecution did not fulfilled the condition of a predicate/ to establish that the source of the money is illicit to warrant a charge of money laundering to be file against his client.
He, therefore pray the court to discharge and acquit their clients on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the alleged offences.
On his part, counsel to Destral Investment Limited, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear matters bordering on simple contract.
Onwugbufor, who called up only one witness in defence, submitted that the issue of the source of money should first be determined by the court in other to establish a case of money laundering.
According to him, the N400m was legitimately provided and transform to the second defendant, regretting non calling of former president Jonathan to give evidence, saying that only his evidence would have shown whether he authorized money or not.

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