Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Piqued by alleged plot to delay his trial, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, asked the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to revoke the bail it granted a former Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Olisa Metuh, and to remand him in prison custody.
The application by Prosecution Counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, followed the absence of Metuh in court for two consecutive days.
Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, are being prosecuted on seven counts, including receiving fraudulently the sum of N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014.
The charges also include the allegations that the ex-spokesperson for the PDP transacted with $2m cash which was said to be above the threshold of cash payment prescribed by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
When the trial resumed, on Monday, after the judgment of the Supreme Court, which ordered his speedy trial, Metuh, who was said to be on admission at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State.
He again absent from court yesterday, informing the prosecution counsel to applied that Metuh’s bail be sent revoked and send to prison custody.
Tahir, while reacting to Metuh’s lawyer’s application for further adjournment on Tuesday, faulted the January 21, 2018 medical report of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, sent to the court indicating that the defendant was on admission for treatment for an ailment.
He urged the court to hold that the medical report is a trash to be consigned to the dustbin because it was not backed by a verifying affidavit and without any reference to the case pending in court.
Tahir further urged the court to reject the request of the defence for an investigation into the authenticity of the letter, adding that a fresh application by Metuh to call 10 additional witnesses for his defence, was part of his plan to get the trial stalled.
The prosecution therefore, said the steps taken by Metuh had undermined the administration of criminal justice deserving the revocation of the bail granted the defendant.
He said, “The court should decline the invitation to order investigation into the veracity of the letter. There is no basis for that. There is no basis to suggest that the court must believe this letter.”The letter is not attached to an affidavit. How will the prosecution investigate the document?
“There is no reference to the pending charge before this honourable charge.
“Having regard to the absence of the first defendant from court yesterday and today for inexplicable reasons and also having regard to the fact that he is enjoying the bail of this court and has taken steps to undermine and jeopardise the full objectives the full purpose of bail in the administration of criminal justice, the prosecution is constrained to apply for the revocation of the bail of the first defendant pursuant to sections 173(b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and section 169 of the same Act.
“It follows without mention that we are vehemently opposed to application for adjournment. And we pray this honourable court to revoke the bail granted to the first defendant and commit him to prison until the conclusion of his trial. Once the bail is revoked, he will be attending his trial from the prisons.”
However, counsel to Metuh, Dr. Oneychi Ikpeazu (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the application for bail revocation.
He also urged the court to adjourn the trial till a period after the end of the week, promising that Metuh would be in court by then.
Ikpeazu said, “My learned friend has not filed a motion for the revocation of the bail granted by this honourable court.
“Counsel cannot rightly submit that a letter should have been brought by an affidavit evidence and so should be disregarded, and then turn around to found his application for the revocation of the bail on the same letter, which he claimed should not be before the court.
“Another point he made was that there is an application to call additional witnesses. Even if, without conceding, that he can make an oral application, the first defendant’s application has not been moved by anybody. He can not say that the application will be moved. He cannot again pre-empt if there is merit in the application.
“Therefore my lord, my learned friend has not placed any material before the court on why the bail granted by my lord after an extensive application should simply just be revoked.
“The essential facts to support such revocation must deal with the facts that the defendant is a flight risk, he is interfering with witnesses of the prosecution or interfering with due administration of justice.”