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Abang insists Jonathan, Dasuki must testify in Metuh’s trial

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
25 October 2017   |   4:31 am
Justice Abang had signed a subpoena drafted by Metuh’s legal team, praying the court to compel Jonathan to appear as defence witness in the case.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan.

There was confusion at the Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday as Justice Okon Abang insisted that both former President Goodluck Jonathan and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) must appear before it today.

The two are expected to give evidence as defence witnesses in the ongoing trial of former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, in a N400 million corruption charges levelled against him by the Federal Government.

Justice Abang had signed a subpoena drafted by Metuh’s legal team, praying the court to compel Jonathan to appear as defence witness in the case.

The trial judge had indicated in the subpoena that the former president should appear in court on Wednesday.

Earlier on Monday, the judge had also subpoenaed Dasuki to appear on the same Wednesday, but his counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN), opposed the invitation on the ground that his client was still in detention.

It is not clear if the former president will appear in court today, especially as the registrar had confirmed in the open court that Jonathan had not been served notice by the bailiff. The court will deliver ruling on a motion filed by the ex-NSA seeking to set aside the subpoena issued against him to compel his appearance in court.

Justice Abang maintained that the ruling he earlier gave on Monday concerning Dasuki’s appearance in court today still subsists.

At the resumed sitting yesterday, Dasuki, through his counsel, Raji prayed the court to set aside the subpoena issued against his client on the ground that Dasuki has been in the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS) since September 2015 without a lawful court order.

While arguing Monday’s application, Raji stated that the ex-NSA was not in the right frame of mind to testify in any matter, having been denied access to documents and freedom of movement for almost two years by the Federal Government.

The counsel further submitted that Dasuki, having been indicted alongside Metuh in the same financial transactions, is not a compellable witness that should testify in such a criminal trial. He, therefore, urged the court to set aside the subpoena against his client on account of improper service of the same on him and in view of the canvassed reasons.

But counsel to Metuh, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), opposed the motion by Dasuki on the ground that he is bound by the order of court to come and give evidence in the trial.

He expressed regret that he had written letters to Dasuki and the director general of DSS, on the need to produce Dasuki in court for the purpose of giving evidence but that up till yesterday, the DSS had not considered it necessary to respond to the letters.

The counsel to the Federal Government, Sylvanus Tahir, opposed the application by Dasuki, raising four grounds for considerations.

They include the fact that the Federal High Court is a subordinate court to the Court of Appeal and as such, cannot review, vary or set aside a judgement of the Court of Appeal.

Tahir claimed that the judgement of the appellate court on subpoena issued against Dasuki was valid, subsisting and not appealed against and that Dasuki, not being a party at the appeal court, cannot challenge the decision of the appellate court.

The EFCC counsel further argued that the judgement of the Appeal Court has a binding effect on all parties, and consequently urged the court to refuse the application by Dasuki, seeking to set aside the judgement of the higher court delivered on September 29.

Tahir further submitted that nothing precludes Dasuki from coming to court to testify even if he had been indicted in the same financial transaction along with Metuh.

After taking submissions from the parties, Justice Abang adjourned ruling till today.

He ordered lawyers on the matter to supply to the court the photocopies of authorities cited to buttress their submissions during their oral arguments.

He added that since the order of the court made on Monday has not been vacated, both former President Jonathan and Dasuki who were called by Metuh to testify, must be in court today.