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Published On: Tue, May 22nd, 2018

Arms deal: Court rejects counsel’s withdrawal from trial as Metuh collapses

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja, yesterday, discountenance Mr. Emeka Etieba, SAN, withdrawal from Chief Olisah Metuh’s case.
Etieba, the lead counsel to the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Monday, announced his withdrawal from the case, when the trial judge, insisted the matter should go on after the defendant, Metuh collapsed in court.
Metuh dropped on the floor shortly after his case was called up while walking toward the dock.
Etiaba said he could not continue with the matter with his client lying lifeless on the floor with no attempt to resuscitate him since the court was in session.
The senior lawyer insisted that his client was obviously ill as confirmed by medical personnel of the high court.
He refused to offer further contributions even when asked for by the judge, as he maintained that he had withdrawn from the matter.
“It will be against all procedure of trial to say I want to continue when my client is lying down and I don’t know whether he is dead or alive,” Etiaba said.
Explaining what happened to the judge, the three officials of the court said that Metuh who was heading to the dock, suddenly landed on the floor while his aide was attempting to draw his attention to directive by the court that he should remain where he was seated.
Reacting, Justice Abang refused Etieba’s application to withdraw from the trial saying it is an attempt to delay the trial.
He, therefore, ordered the defendant to produce his eleventh witness to testify before it.
Metuh is facing trial over allegation that he had through his firm, received N400million prior to the 2015 presidential election to lauder the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s image.
The former PDP Publicity Secretary, had on March 14, prayed the trial judge, to grant him leave to travel to United Kingdom for medical attention.
Relying on section 33(5) and 6(b) of the 1999 Constitution, Metuh informed the court that he is suffering from spinal cord injury and needed a medical attention from his doctors in London.
Substantiating his claims, the defendant through his lawyers tendered as an exhibit, a letter from one Dr. Adrian T. H. Kasey, a Neurosurgeon at Wellington Hospital in London, which he said emphasized the need for Metuh to be treated urgently.
In his ruling, Justice Abang set-aside the application, insisting that the former PDP spokesman failed to persuade the court that he was indeed suffering from the ailment as he claimed.
Consequently, Metuh headed to Court of Appeal in Abuja to challenge the refusal of the lower court to allow him to travel abroad for medical treatment.
It will be recalled that Metuh is being prosecuted on a seven-count charge brought against him by the federal government.
The defendant alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the N400 million he allegedly received fraudulently from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014.
According to the prosecution, the money which was released to Metuh and his firm by the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd, was part of about $2.1billion for the purchase of arms.

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