Embattled spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh was today remanded in prison custody following his arraignment before a Federal High Court in sitting in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations that he engaged in N400 million fraud that involved his firm, Destra Investment Limited.
Metuh is standing trial on a 7-count charge brought against him for allegedly diverting and sharing part of the $2.1bn arms purchase funds by a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
Metuh, who was arrested on January 5, has been in the custody of the EFCC. During his arraignment today, a bearded Metuh donned a white native dress with matching red cap arrived the court at 9.00am with retinue of his political supporters who came to show solidarity support. Mr. Metuh’s supporters began chanting “Free Metuh, Free Metuh, Free Metuh” however they were prevented from gaining access into the court by the security operatives.
After the charges had been read to him in the dock Mr. Metuh pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The defence counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, made an oral application for bail to prevent the accused from staying further in EFCC custody. He argued that the trial is a ‘summary trial’ as the case is not being tried on the information that a formal written application is not necessary in this case because the application rests on the constitutional right of the defendant. He maintained that the condition for bail has been spelt out in section 162 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA). He submitted that the request for the written application by the prosecution counsel should not arise as the court can take any application orally. He, therefore, prayed the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the applicant.
But the Prosecution counsel, Tahir Sylvanus opposed to the oral application and asked the court to reject and discountenance the bail application made by the defence counsel as such does not envisage in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) as being cited by the defence counsel saying that the application is illegal and contrary to law.
The prosecution counsel argued that the defendant was duly served a copy of the hearing notice of the case and insisted that the formal application must be made.
The presiding Judge, Justice Abang Okon while ruling on the oral application held that he has carefully considered the argument of both parties and said that the court cannot prevent the defendant from making a bail application. But since there was an objection to the oral application of the defendant he would ask the defendant to file a formal application for bail within 6 hours and asked the prosecution counsel to file their reply within 24 hours after that. He held that if parties comply with the order, the court shall resume on January 19th by 12.00pm to take the argument on bail application while the hearing of the case will commence on Jan. 25th 2016.
Abang, therefore, warned on the frivolous application for adjournment from the lawyers saying such would not be allowed in his court.
The charge against Metuh borders on money laundering, breach of trust and criminal diversion of public funds.
The anti-graft agency said it has established that Metuh had in November 2014, collected N400 million from the erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).
The fund, which was withdrawn from an account of the Office of the NSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria was allegedly transferred and traced to Metuh through account no. 0040437573, which Destra Investments Limited operated with Diamond Bank Plc.