Metuh Has Case to Answer, Supreme Court Rules

The Supreme Court, Friday, dismissed a no case submission filed by the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh against the judgment of the lower court.
The apex court said that Metuh has a case to answer in corruption charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against him and his company, Destra Investments Limited.
Metuh and his company are facing corruption and money laundering charges involving the sums of N400m and $2m.
Metuh was said to collected N400m from the former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (retd) for reasons other than that of security.
Justice Okon Abang of A Federal High Court in Abuja had in his March 29, 2016 ruling dismissed the no-case submission which Metuh and his company entered into after the prosecution closed its case with eight witnesses.
The defendants, through their lawyers, led by Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), had filed a no-case submission, asking the court to discharge and acquit them on the grounds that the prosecution failed to make any prima facie case against them.
But the judge ruled against the defendants, holding that the prosecution’s case had raised so many questions, which the defendants needed “to urgently answer”.
Justice Abang held, that the accused had case to answer to enable them to offer explanations about the allegations levelled against them by the anti-graft body.
The Judge explained in his ruling that the court was not expected at the stage to make findings on the guilt or otherwise of the accused.
He added that the court could also not make pronouncement on the credibility of the prosecution witnesses that had testified
He held that the evidence given by the prosecution’s third and seventh witnesses as well as Exhibits D1 and E6(1) to (4) linked Metuh and his company to the alleged crime.
He added, “It is only the first defendant (Metuh) that can answer the questions. The first defendant admitted in his statement that the the second defendant (Destra) received N400m on November 24, 2014.
Unsatisfied with the ruling, Metuh had entered an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, asking it to dismiss the lower court’s ruling.
However, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, saying it was incompetent, and went on to uphold the March 9, 2016 ruling of Justice Abang.
According to the Court of Appeal, Metuh and his company failed to first obtain the leave of either the trial court or the appellate court before filing a notice of appeal as required by the Constitution when filing an appeal against an interlocutory decision, on the grounds of mixed law and facts.
The Court of Appeal held that the appellants having failed in that regard, noted that their appeals were incompetent and the court lacked jurisdiction to hear them.
Metuh and his company had gone ahead to the Supreme Court to appeal both ruling of the lower and the appellate courts.
In a judgment of a five-man panel of the Supreme Court on Friday, it affirmed the May 25, 2016 judgment of the Court of Appeal.
Justice Dattijo Mohammed headed the five-man panel of the apex court and prepared the leading judgment and was read on his behalf by Justice Ejembi Eko.
The apex court resolved all the three issues raised in the appeals against the appellants.
The apex court held that as much as the Court of Appeal lacked the jurisdiction to hear the appeals, the Supreme Court too could not entertain the appeal arising from the incompetent appeals before the court below.
“By section 233 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), appeals from the Court of Appeal to this court lies only against the decisions of that court.
“Such decisions evolve from the Court of Appeal upon the exercise of jurisdiction over appeals from the court below.
“Where the Court of Appeal lacks the necessary jurisdiction, in the first place, to hear and determine the appeal before it, such as in the instant case, no decision of the court against the competent appeal lies to this court.
“It is for that reason I strike out the incompetent appeal and affirm the judgment of the lower court below,” the court held.
By implication of this ruling, the coast is now cleared for continuation of Metuh’s trial and he is expected to open his defence.

Author: News Editor

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