From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday voided the judgment of the Federal High Court, which sentenced former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, to seven years imprisonment for money laundering.
Metuh was jailed over the allegation that he received N400 million from the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), prior to the 2015 presidential election, without contract approval or execution.
His earlier conviction by Justice Okon Abang was predicated upon a seven-count charge that was preferred against him and his firm by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In a related development, the appellate court equally nullified the indictments against Dasuki, as contained in a judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which convicted Metuh, for money laundering.
In a unanimous judgment yesterday, a three-man panel led by Justice Stephen Adah held that the Federal High Court made damaging comments against Dasuki without giving him a fair hearing. Justice Adah held that Dasuki not being charged as a co-defendant in the case or given any opportunity to defend himself, the comments made against Dasuki were unwarranted.
In Metuh’s appeal, a three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court held that the judgment Abang delivered against Metuh on February 25, was laced with bias. The court reached this conclusion in two judgments in the appeals by Metuh and Destra, marked: CA/A/306C/2020 and CA/A/CR/309/2020.
Justice Adah, who delivered the lead judgment of the court, held that allowing the verdict of the trial court to stand “will set a dangerous precedent.”
The appellate court held that the trial judge had by making disparaging remarks in the judgement, betrayed his premeditated mindset against the defendant whom he accused of writing various petitions against him.
In his reaction, counsel to Metuh, Chief Emeka Etiaba (SAN), said since the court had nullified the conviction of his client, the next step is for the legal team to activate the relevant administrative procedure to ensure Metuh’s release from prison.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, said his organisation would study the judgments and decide on the next steps to take.