Godwin Tsa Abuja
After trial that lasted for about five years, the Abuja division of the Federal High Court yesterday sentenced former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, to seven years imprisonment.
In a marathon judgment that lasted several hours, Justice Okon Abang, also ordered Metuh to pay a total sum of N375million to the coffers of the Federal Government. The court directed that his firm, Destra Investment Ltd, should be wound up with all funds standing to its credit forfeited to the government.
The court found them guilty of unlawfully receiving N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, prior to the 2015 presidential election, without contract approval or execution. Metuh was also convicted for involvement in an illicit transaction that involved the exchange of $2million, in violation of extant financial regulations.
The sentences are as follow: seven years on counts 1, 2, 4 and 7 of the charge, the count handed him five years on count 3, three years on count 5 and 6. The firm was ordered to pay N25m with respect to both counts 5 and 6 of the charge. The court held that the sentence would run concurrently starting from today.
Justice Abang Okon pronounced the sentence after he convicted Metuh and his company all seven-count charge against him and his company.
Metuh and his company were charged on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N400 million. He allegedly received the money from the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd).
In count one of the charge, the prosecution accused Metuh and his company of receiving the said amount from Dasuki having knowledge that the said amount formed part of the unlawful activities of the former NSA.
Delivering judgment in count one, Justice Abang held that from the evidence placed before the court, the first defendant, Metuh, was not telling the court the truth.
The judge noted that if the defendants knew of the inflow of the sum of N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) where he had earlier claimed in his statement that he never had any contract with, he (Metuh) ought to have questioned the source of the money and not have gone ahead to spend it.
In addition, Abang held that the only person who could have corroborated Metuh’s claim that the money was authorised by former President Goodluck Jonathan was the then president himself, whom the defendants planned to call but later abandoned.
The court further noted that even when it was subpoenaed to call Dasuki, who was a principal officer to Jonathan, was, subpoenaed relevant questions were not put before Dasuki to affirm or deny that President Jonathan directed that the sum of N400 million be paid to Metuh for a national assignment.
“Having established that the money came from ONSA and there was no contractual evidence and ONSA not being a charitable organisation, the first defendant took no steps whatsoever to know why the N400 million was paid to the account of the second defendant.