Absence of Metuh’s counsel stalls trial
The trial of Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary, Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) was stalled in the Federal High Court, Abuja, due to absence of his counsel, Mr Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN).
When the matter was called on Wednesday, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, told the court that the matter was adjourned until Wednesday for continuation of trial.
He said that he received a letter from Ikpeazu asking for adjournment because he had to appear in another matter in a court in Port Harcourt.
“I am not opposed to adjournment because as counsel, we do find ourselves in this kind of situation and for the integrity of the counsel involved, we shall not oppose the application,” he said.
In his ruling on the application for adjournment, the presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang, noted that the matter had reached advanced stage and he expected the counsel to be eager to wrap the matter up.
“This matter has reached advanced stage, the prosecution has closed its case and the defence has called six witnesses and is on the seventh.
“The defence counsel should have exercised the choice to appear in this matter today and asked someone else to attend to the matter in Port Harcourt,” Abang said.
He said that though Ikpeazu also wrote a letter to him, it was wrong for the counsel to address the letter to him, (judge) directly.
“In regards to today’s adjournment, the counsel addressed the letter to me directly and this is not proper because I am not a party in the matter.
“A letter of adjournment is always addressed to the registrar of the court who will then call the attention of the judge to it.
“I consider this letter addressed to me personally as unethical conduct but since the prosecution is not opposed to the application, I am inclined to accept it,” he said.
Abang adjourned the matter until June 23 for continuation of trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, on a seven-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering.
The alleged offence involved 2 million dollars and N400 million which the defendants allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014.