Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court, Abuja, Monday, expressed displeasure as to the various means being employed by the defence team of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, in the ongoing trial over alleged N400m fraud.
Justice Abang observed the various adjournments at the instance of the 1st defendant as an attempt to prolong, frustrate and scuttle the matter entirely; especially since defence team handed over the matter to A.C Oziakor.
The Judge added that the major reason for employing Oziakor’s services was to frustrate the trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is prosecuting Metuh before Justice Abang for allegedly receiving N400m from ONSA in 2014, to run advocacy campaign for former President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The trial of Metuh was stalled Wednesday, April 10, 2019, due to absence of counsel to the 1st defendant, A.O Onsiowu.
At the resumed sitting Monday the prosecution counsel, S. Tahir told the court that the prosecution was ready for the continuation of the trial, adding that the 15th defence witness, who is also the 1st defendant in the matter, is in the dock for cross examination. While Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Tochukwu Onwugbufor, SAN, also informed the court of their readiness to proceed.
But Metuh’s counsel, Oziakor, who was absent in court sent a letter to the court which was served to all parties involved, seeking another adjournment because he has another matter at the State High Court Adamawa, Yola State. He attached a copy of his flight ticket to Yola to the letter. It will be recalled that the case had witnessed four different adjournments which has always been granted.
However, the prosecution counsel, opposed the application, adding that the trial has suffered enough adjournments.
“My Lord, we were served the letter around 8:45am and we have gone through it, I vehemently oppose the adjournment, on a normal day, a prosecution ought not to oppose to such application seeking court indulgence for an adjournment. But in this case, I am constrained to oppose the application seeking another adjournment”, he stated.
Giving reasons for opposing the application for adjournment, Tahir noted that the letter seeking for the adjournment is dated May 13, and signed personally by the learned counsel to the 1st defendant, adding that the supposed copy of flight ticket attached to the letter reads and expressly stated that the trip to Yola, as shown on the ticket contradicts the May 15, 2019.
“My Lord, one wonders if there is good faith or truth for someone who is supposed to be in Yola on the 13th and this sitting is for 20th of May, yet the letter was personally signed on the 14th of May, by same counsel”, Tahir said.
Meanwhile, after hearing the submission of the prosecution counsel, Justice Abang thereafter ruled that the adjournment for the continuation of trial is at the discretion of the court, adding that the adjournment is not automatic and it is not usually granted on a platter of gold.
The matter was adjourned to May 21 (Tuesday) for continuation of trial even though it is not convenient for the court to adjourn but in the interest of justice.
Justice Abang however added that frivolous application for adjournment shall no longer be entertained.