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Court Tells Metuh To Open Defence? April 11

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Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh,to open his defence in his trial for money laundering.

Justice Abang gave the directive after dismissing a number of Metuh’s applications, including one asking the judge to withdraw from the case and another asking for indefinite adjournment.

Metuh had requested an indefinite adjournment pending when the Court of Appeal would hear and determine his appeal against the court’s ruling dismissing his no-case submission and his motion for stay of proceedings of his trial.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Metuh and his firm before Justice Abang on seven counts of money laundering including $2m cash transaction.

Part of the charges preferred against them also bordered on the N400m which the accused allegedly received fraudulently from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014.

Another lawyer, Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN)?, who took over the defence of Metuh’s firm on Friday, also made series of oral applications for adjournment which were all dismissed by the court.

The judge said Metuh and his firm were no longer entitled to any further adjournment having exhausted the five times such request could be granted to them under section 396(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

Since the prosecution closed its case, the judge recalled that the matter had been adjourned on February 4, 9, March 9, 17 and 24, all at the instance of the defendants.

But the judge subsequently decided to ?adjourn the case “at the instance of the court” to enable him to attend to other cases on the list.

?Earlier, the judge had dismissed an application asking him to disqualify himself from further presiding over the trial.

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, had also in a March 24, 2016 letter dismissed Metuh’s petition asking for the transfer of the case from Justice Abang to another judge.

Justice Abang dismissed the application by Metuh for lacking in merit after entertaining arguments in support of it by the PDP spokesperson’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), and against it by the counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir.

The accused had sent the petition against the judge and filed the application asking him to withdraw from the case after the prosecution closed its case with eight witness and they were called upon to open their defence.

Both the petition and the motion were based on allegation of bias leveled against the judge.

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