Alleged N400m fraud: Court rejects Metuh’s bid to call Dasuki as witness

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, refused to summon the detained ex-National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, to explain why he gave N400million to former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, prior to the 2015 presidential election.

Trial Justice Okon Abang dismissed as lacking in merit, the request which Metuh filed through his lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN. Metuh is answering to a seven-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against him and his firm, Destra Investment Limited. The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants had before the election, received N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, without executing any contract. It said the fund which was released to Metuh and his firm by Dasuki, was part of about $2.1billion earmarked for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency in the North East. Metuh had in his defence before the court, insisted that the money was given to him to conduct media campaigns for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan before the 2015 general election.
In a bid to substantiate his claim, the defendant pleaded the court to issue a subpoena to compel the Federal Government to allow Dasuki who has been in detention since November 3, 2015, to appear and testify on his behalf. While dismissing the application, Justice Abang held that Dasuki was not a “compellable” witness. The Judge said there was no evidence before the court to show that Metuh applied to the Department of State Service, DSS, which has Dasuki in its custody, and such request was turned down. He said it was not the duty of a court to compel a witness to appear and testify for a defendant.
“The first defendant cannot come to the court first when he had not approached the DSS”. The Judge held that Metuh’s request was in bad faith, stressing that Dasuki was not included in the list of witnesses the defendant earlier submitted to the court. He held that Metuh’s application was an afterthought, saying it was a deliberate ploy to delay the trial. Likewise, Justice Abang declined Metuh’s application for leave to travel to the United Kingdom for surgery. Metuh had prayed the court for temporary release of his international passport to enable him to seek medical attention abroad.
Justice Abang said he could not grant the request considering that he had earlier dismissed a similar application the defendant made on May 25, 2016. He said the defendant ought to have appealed against that ruling, adding that granting the instant application would amount to his court sitting on appeal over its own ruling. Meantime, Metuh who was visibly displeased with the ruling, accused Justice Abang of being biased against him. Reacting to the ruling, his lawyer, Ikpeazu, SAN, said his client has lost his trust on ability of the Judge to handle the trial objectively.
“We are not confident that the court will give us Justice in this matter”, Ikpeazu added. Consequently, Metuh’s lawyer asked Justice Abang to disqualify himself from further presiding over the matter, a request that was also dismissed by the court. The matter was subsequently adjourned till March 20 for Metuh to call more witnesses in his defence of the charge against him.