The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, has yet met a brick wall in his pursuit to halt proceedings of his trial on allegations of corruption and using his company to defraud the country until the determination of an appeal he filed at the Appeal Court.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Monday, refused to grant his request to issue an order to the Federal High Court to stay proceedings of his trial.
Metuh, through his counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, asked the court to halt his ongoing trial at the Federal High Court pending the determination of his other applications at the appellate court. The case was then fixed for hearing on Monday, April 25.
A three-man panel led by Justice Abdul Aboki, after listening to the arguments, declined Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Ltd, application of stay of proceedings, saying that the Appeal Court lacked power to stay proceedings at a lower court.
Aboki said it was wrong on the part of the appellant to have filed such an application before the Appeal Court.
He however asked them to pursue their appeal, but bear in mind that the court would not entertain any application for stay of proceedings.
“You can pursue your appeal; but you will have to return to the lower court to make your matter heard,” said Aboki.
Tochukwu Onwubufor, counsel to Metuh’s company, Destra Investment Ltd, on Monday told the court that his client would henceforth appear independent of the first defendant, Olisa Metuh.
Onwubufor told the court that his client had a legal prerogative to adopt a new client and had appointed a separate client for the second defendant.
“As soon as I announce to be a counsel, he ceases automatically to be counsel,” said Onwubufor while explaining his replacement of Ikpeazu for the second defendant.
Onwubufor also informed the court of his decision to adopt the brief filed by Ikpeazu.
Subsequently, Ikpeazu withdrew his earlier appearance for the first and second defendants
The court however overruled an argument by prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, that Onwubufor should not be allowed to adopt an application filled by another counsel.
The Judge therefore adjourned the matter till May 5, for Sylvanus to submit his reply brief.
The charge brought against Metuh by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission borders on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and criminal diversion of public funds.
Specifically, EFCC, alleged that Metuh had in November, 2014, collected the sum of N400m from the erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd.
The fund which was withdrawn from an account the Office of the NSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, was allegedly transferred to Metuh through account no. 0040437573, which Destra Investments Limited operated with Diamond Bank Plc.
EFCC insisted that whereas the fund was earmarked for campaign activities of the PDP, it said that Metuh diverted most of it to his personal use.
It alleged that Metuh converted part of the money to one million US Dollars which he used for his personal business.
Besides, Metuh was alleged to have transferred the sum of N21.7m to another chieftain of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih.