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Published On: Wed, May 23rd, 2018

Arms deal: Court rules on Metuh’s application for adjournment today

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja, will today rule on the former Publicity Secretary of the People Democratic Party,(PDP) Chief Olisah Metuh’s application for an adjournment due to illness.
The court will rule on whether Metuh has a reasonable reason to be absent in court, whether the proceedings should continue in his absence and also, whether to compel the General Manager of Channels TV, where prejudicial comments were made against the judicial proceeding of the court.
Metuh who collapsed inside the court, on Monday, as he was proceeding to the dock and was taken to the National hospital was absent in court.
At the resumption of trial, counsel to the defendant, Emeka Etieba SAN, made an oral application asking the court for a short adjournment to enable the defendant recover.
He submitted that the court should determine if it has vires to continue the proceedings in the absence of the defendant.
He argued that proceeding with the trial without the defendant violates the principles of fair hearing.
Opposing the application, Counsel to the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, said that the absence of the defendant is complete disobedience since there is no reasonable excuse as for the absence of the defendant. “The accuse will not be subjected to section 266 of ACJA.
“I urge the court to proceed in his absence because it will not violate the principles of fair hearing.
“ The defendant has adopted dilatory and practice aimed at shutting the trial and holding the state to ransom.
Also Tahir brought to the notice of the court, a Channels Television event on Sunrise program yesterday morning, discussing pending issues before the court.
According to him, Ben Chucks Nwosu from the defence was making prejudicial statements which was an impunity on the integrity of the court.
He therefore, asked the court to make an order for the vedio recording of the program aired to be produced in court and appropriate judicial action taken.
Responding, Etiaba said that the application made by the prosecution is novel because it is an application which is inflingingly has been made within an application.
“I have made an application that the court do not have a vires to continue with the trial in the defendant’s absence.
“While replying my application and further issues, the prosecution choose to introduce another application. It is wrong and make the application.”
Counsel to the second defendant(Destra Investment), Tobechukwu
Onwugbufor SAN, in his response asked the court to discountenance the application to produce Channels TV program to the court saying that it is a hearsay application.
“ It is a hearsay application and court do not act in hearsay evidence and this court will not be an exception.
“It is out of place when the prosecution do not mention what was discussed in the TV program that will determine if it is prejudicial or not.
“ The application should be substantial so that the court should not ridicule itself.
“The application should be taken to the disciplinary council of the Bar to take up the manual not your lordship.
Reacting to the responds of the defence, Tahir said they Onwugbufor SAN, has sought to trivialised the issue before the court.
“It is not hear say, the court should not be a night errant or a meddlesome interlope in granting the defence it’s application.
“I urge you take our application with seriousness it deserves and also dismiss the defendant’s application for an adjournment.
After taking the submissions of the parties, Justice Abang ruled that both parties, should before 3pm, submit to the registrar of the court, all the authorities cited.
He therefore, adjourned till today to rule on the three issues raised by the parties and for the continuation of trial.
The defendant alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission for the N400million, he received fraudulently from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014.

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