Court sentences Metuh to seven years in prison
Former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisah Metuh, and his firm, Destra Investments Limited, have been sentenced to seven years in prison. This was after he was found guilty of count one, two and three of the seven-count charge levelled against them by the Federal Government.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, convicted the two defendants yesterday.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had instituted the charge against Metuh and his company for alleged money laundering to the tune of N400 million.
Ruling on the first count charge, Justice Abang held that the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, unlawfully transferred the N400 million to the defendants in November 2014.
The judge maintained that Metuh and his firm reasonably ought to have known that the N400 million paid to them formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity of the former NSA since they had no form of contractual relationship with him.
According to the judge, Dasuki transferred the money to the defendants in breach of public trust.
The judge said: “The issue is whether or not the first defendant has actual knowledge or constructive knowledge or no knowledge at all of the inflow of N400 million from ONSA to the second defendant.
“If Metuh knows of the inflow of the N400m into the account of the second defendant controlled by him without any contract, then he should have been conscious of receiving such fund.
“I have my doubt if the first defendant is telling the court the truth in this matter. It is my humble view and firm view that on the 24th November 2014, the first defendant had actual knowledge of the inflow of N400 million into the account of the second defendant.
“I have my doubt if the former President could have authorised N400 million public fund just on verbal approval and even to a first defendant that was not official person but a member of a political party.
“And upon being told of the inflow of N400 million by Prosecution Witness 4, why did he fail to confront the bank for not alerting him? And I agree that the first defendant turned a blind eye to receiving the fund.
“The defendant could have known that Dasuki did so in breach of public trust.
“Both the first and second defendants are found guilty and convicted in count one”, Abang ruled.
On count two of the charges, Justice Abang held that the prosecution had advanced evidence that the first defendant had used the said amount for a PDP campaign.
“I have my doubt if the former president could have engaged the first defendant, a member of the PDP working committee to handle issue of national security.
“The consultant that the Metuh claimed carried out the public enlightenment showed, in fact, that the money was used to fund the political activities of the PDP to brighten the image of the party.”
According the judge, saying that it was for security purposes was to divert the attention of the court because there was no contract between the ONSA and the second defendant.
“With evidence placed before me, I am inclined to believe the evidence of the prosecution witness that the first defendant tore the third page of the extra judicial statement made to EFCC where the prosecution claimed that the money received from ONSA was used for the PDP campaign.
“It is my view that the missing original third sheet where the first defendant claimed that he used the N400 million for PDP campaign was destroyed.
“This cannot be a cock and bull story meant for entertainment. Rather, it is a serious issue that concerns the credibility of the first defendant where he destroyed a confessional statement he made that the 400 million he received from ONSA was to fund the political campaign of the PDP,” the judge held.
He also agreed with the counsel to the prosecution that the money was disbursed for the campaign of the PDP.
“My lords, the first defendant, in respect to him, is not a witness of truth.
“The first defendant has not offered any valid explanation in the transfer of N50 million in favour of the joint account of Kanayo Olisa Metuh which him and his wife operated.
“It is clear that the defendant converted the fund for political activities and personal use,” the judge insisted.
With this, he found both the first and second defendants guilty and convicted them for count two.
The defendants have also been convicted on count three.
Meanwhile, members of the Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) have accused President Muhammadu Buhari of failing to demonstrate a genuine commitment to prosecuting the ongoing war against corrupt practices in the country.
The group’s convener, Mr. Pelumi Olajengbesi, who briefed reporters in Abuja alleged that President Buhari had deliberately refused to purge his own cabinet and administration of corrupt individuals who enjoy protection by virtue of offices they hold through him.
The group referred to a minister who allegedly has a huge unresolved corruption case hanging over his head to buttress its claim.
Applauding the conviction of Metuh, the group enjoined the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure the immediate prosecution of other corrupt persons in President Buhari’s government with the same vigour it deployed in ensuring Metuh’s conviction.
“It is quite embarrassing and indeed disappointing that a president who came into office bearing the toga of integrity would surround himself with individuals who have questionable antecedents and impeachable character.
“We have the case of a minister who has an indecent record and has been charged to court and the administration influenced the withdrawal of the matter through the then Inspector General of Police. EFCC took over the matter but unfortunately before investigating the matter, this man was decorated with a ministerial appointment.
“What we are saying is this, let this administration address this matter to ensure that there is justice in the real sense of it. So if this administration must fight corruption, it must purify itself by purging itself of all individuals who have corruption record. They must be investigated.”
The Deputy National Chairman of PDP in South west zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, said the court judgment came to the party as a rude shock and he had to quickly call off all the meetings initially scheduled for today (yesterday) to sympathies with Metuh.
He said the party leadership would do everything to ensure that Metuh proves his innocence.
Olafeso dismissed the rumor that the party abandoned Metuh in his travail. “There is no iota of truth that Metuh was abandoned at any time.”