Justice Abang Directs Prosecution of Lawyer, Channels TV Reporters for Prejudicial

Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja, Tuesday, directed the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute three staff of Channels Television for making alleged prejudicial comments on a matter before his court.
The staff, who are presenters of Channel’s Sunrise Daily, are Chamberlain Usoh, Gimba Umar and Nneota Egbe.
The Judge gave the order after listening to a recorded television programme produced and aired by Channels Television involving the ongoing trial of Chief Olisa Metuh, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman who is standing trial on alleged N400m money laundering offences.
This is even as he set aside his ruling closing the defence of Metuh.
Delivering a ruling on Tuesday, on Metuh’s application seeking reopening of his defence, Justice Abang held that the order closing Metuh’s case was made in default as Metuh was not heard before his case was closed.
Also recommended for prosecution is one of Metuh’s counsel, Benchux Nwosu, whom the court ordered the prosecution counsel to refer to the Disciplinary Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for alleged professional misconduct.
Their arraignment which should be in any court of competent jurisdiction is to enable the court decide whether the statement made by the TV presenters and their guest on Sunrise aired on May 22, 2018 are prejudicial or contemptuous.
“It is clear that the statement of the programme was aired outside the court not within the court therefore I have no jurisdiction to determine whether the statements are prejudicial to this court.
“Though I have no jurisdiction to make findings of the statement made by the three persons representing Channels have constituted prejudicial discussion.
“I have jurisdiction to refer this matter to the body that can determine such”, he held.
The Judge then gave orders for the matter to be referred to the disciplinary committee of the NBA and directed the prosecution file copies of compliance to the judgement within 30 days.
The prosecution is also expected to comply with the order for the arraignment of the three staff involved in the production and broadcast of the said programme, along with Nwosu in a court of law.
Delivering ruling on Metuh’s application for his case to be reopened, Justice Abang noted that neither Metuh nor his counsel were in court when the order closing his case was made on the 25th of May.
The setting aside of the ruling has therefore paved way for Metuh to continue his defence.
Abang, had on May 25th ordered the closure of Metuh’s case because the defendant and his client were not in court.
He stated that neither Metuh nor his counsel offered a proper reason for their absence in court on the said day the order was made.
The court while noting that the defendant and his counsel abandoned the court proceedings, added that Metuh had placed conditions that he would only testified if former President, Goodluck Jonathan testified.
Nonetheless, Justice Abang, said, “I bend backwards to accommodate him and set aside the order made on 25th May to allow him call two more witnesses.
“He should not deny himself hearing. Let him give explanation in the charge before him”, he held.
Abang further enjoined Metuh not to create further scenes in court by coming on a stretcher, adding that the court of late has been in the news and negatively too.
He subsequently adjourned trial to Wednesday for Metuh to resume his defense.

Author: News Editor

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