Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A former Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, on Thursday, told a Federal High Court how he received threats from agents of the Federal Government for describing President Muhammadu Buhari as an ‘unrepentant tyrant’ before he was eventually arrested.
He made the revelation while giving evidence in his trial over alleged N40m fraud.
The prosecution specifically accused Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Ltd, in a seven-count charge of receiving the sum of N400 million arms funds from former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, in 2014.
Metuh, who mounted the witness box as the 15th Defence Witness, narrated how after losing the 2015 general elections, the PDP became an opposition party and being the Publicity Secretary, he had to promote the image of the party by press statements and conducting live press briefings in homes of citizens where the government security agencies lay siege.
He further told the court presided by Justice OK on Abang that the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun warned him against his relentless attacks on the government, stating that “they would not take it kindly with me. My family was worried.”
Metuh stated that in December 2015, while discharging his duty as the PDP Publicity Secretary, he responded to the president’s Media Chat where he informed Nigerians ‘that his government can arrest and detain any Nigerian at will’ by telling him that he was becoming ‘an unrepentant tyrant.’
Metuh explained that the statement “resulted in another round of warnings and threats from the government that they would not take it kindly with Olisa Metuh as the Publicity Secretary of the PDP.”
He said the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, who led a Federal Government delegation to attend a burial programme in Ebonyi State threatened him in the presence of the elders of the PDP the South East that the government has decided to teach him a lesson.
Earlier, Justice Okon Abang refused an objection by prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir to reject the irrelevant aspects of the defence by Metuh.
“It is like asking the court to determine the substantive issue at interlocutory stage. The application is adjourned to abide the outcome of the charge before the court. If it is relevant it will reflect in the judgment, if it is not, it will reflect in the judgment,” Justice Abang ruled.
Tahir had argued that Metuh spent three days giving evidence that are not relevant to the facts in issue as provided in Section 1 (a) of the Evidence Act, explaining that “no attempt has been made to defend the issues. The witness has been on “auto pilot without control.”
He urged the court to eschew evidence that are immaterial to the charge in court.
But defence counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, objected to the argument and explained that the evidence so far made by Metuh are relevant to the charges.
The case has been adjourned to November 26 to 30 for hearing.