Olisa Metuh, former national spokesman for the Peoples Democratic Party, had been open to refunding N400m slush cash he received from the Office of the National Security Adviser, a member of his family has said. Even now, Mr. Metuh would be ready to return the funds if the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would stop his prosecution for corruption, said the family of the PDP’s former national publicity secretary.
Mr. Metuh’s brother, Gilbert Metu, disclosed the family’sposition in a statement he released in Abuja today.
According to Gilbert Metuh, his brother was in December 2015 invited by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) when the issue of the N400 million came up. He claimed that his embattled brother “then made enquires regarding the source of the money with a clear statement to ONSA that if the source of the money is from government coffers, he was willing to refund accordingly not minding that the money has been expended as directed by the former President. At that time, ONSA did not make the necessary clarifications.”
Mr. Gilbert Metuh added: “May we also point out that since his arrest and even up to about a week ago, our son has made several overtures to the arresting authority for him to refund the money since they now claim in court that it came from government coffers. All efforts have been unsuccessful.
“It is instructive that out of over 300 names listed as having received money from the ONSA, all those who offered to refund money were not arraigned in court.
“Our son is the only one whose offer to refund money was rejected and has been arraigned in court and his case given accelerated hearing. On each trial date the hostility in the courtroom is palpable.
“As we speak to you the offer to refund the money to the federal government is still open and the government is yet to accept the offer. It is therefore clear to us that the intention is not the recovery of funds but a clear persecution of our son.”
The family also remarked on the refusal of the Federal High Court to grant Mr. Metuh permission to travel to London for medical attention.
Mr. Metuh also suffered a legal setback at the Court of Appeal where his motion to quash the EFCC’s case against him was dismissed.
A close friend of Mr. Metuh’s told SaharaReporters that the former spokesman’s friends and family were worried that the weight of evidence against him was water-tight and that he could be headed for prison unless a negotiated settlement was worked out to enable him to refund millions of naira in exchange for cessation of prosecution.
Mr. Metuh had collapsed at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja, but some cynics said it was a ploy to receive permission to travel abroad for medical treatment. One EFCC operative disclosed that, if Mr. Metuh were granted permission to travel abroad, he would use medical doctors to perpetually postpone his return to face prosecution.
But members of Mr. Metuh’s family insisted that the courts were aware of the former party spokesman’s health problems, wondering why his trial judge had denied his application to secure his international passport to travel abroad for treatment.
Gilbert Metuh said the family was “shocked that with all the information available to the court regarding his grave medical condition and the critical need for him to have this corrective surgery, the Federal High Court Abuja refused his application.” He added: “It is also instructive to note that the Federal High Court Abuja on the same day granted leave to someone facing similar trial to go abroad for one month for prayers while our ailing son is not allowed to travel for urgent medical attention. We are also aware that a few others facing similar trials, within the same federal high court jurisdiction, have been granted leave to travel for medical treatment and their passports released to them by the same court where they were granted bail.
“It is absurd that the main reason given by the court for refusing the application is that there are several teaching hospitals in Nigeria that can handle such critical spinal problems, especially as this dramatic claim by the trial Judge has no medical basis whatsoever. This is clearly one of the tactics being used by the court in an attempt to whip up public sentiments against our son in this courtroom media trial more so when it is judicial notice that even public officers are allowed to travel abroad on ordinary medical check-up and at public expense. Our request is on the basis of a life-threatening ailment and will be undertaken with our own private resources.
“The essence of a criminal trial is to achieve justice and no justice can be achieved if someone dies in the process. We feel more convinced that this is a political vendetta considering the fact of his efforts to pay back the money if it came from government coffers not minding that the money has been expended as directed by the former President.
“Till date, the powers that be have shown that they would rather prosecute our son than accept a refund of the money. For those who are conversant with the goings on in the court, it is no longer news that our son was not informed that this money came from a source other than from the former President. Why then this concerted effort to silence him finally.
“Our son has from the onset shown his willingness to refund the money rather than dragging in other party members involved in the said assignment.”
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