By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
An Abuja Division of the Appeal Court, has set aside the conviction and seven years jail term imposed on a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Chief Olisa Metuh.
The federal high court sitting in Abuja, had on February 25, 2020 convicted Metuh after finding him guilty of money laundering charges preferred against him by the federal government.
The trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang had in his judgment, sentenced Metuh to seven years’ imprisonment for fraudulently receiving N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser then being headed by Col Sambo Dasuki.
However, a three-man panel of the Appellate court led by Justice Stephen Adah, in a unanimous judgment, delivered on Wednesday, nullified the lower court’s verdict and ordered that trial be conducted afresh.
The panel held that the proceedings of the lower court that lead to his conviction and his company, Destra Investment Limited, were tainted with bias, and therefore must not be allowed to stand.
Delivering the lead judgement,
Justice Adah, held that the utterances of the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, in the course of the trial, established that he was biased against Metuh whom he accused of writing various petitions against him.
Therefore, the appellate court held that allowing the trial court’s verdict to stand “will set a dangerous precedent”
He directed that the case file be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge other than Justice Abang.