Court fixes Feb 25, 2020 to rule on Olisa Metuh’s alleged N400m fraud

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday fixed February 25, 2020, to deliver judgement in the N400 million fraud charge against a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh.

Justice Okon Abang on Tuesday fixed the date for judgement after taking arguments from lawyers in the matter for over four years.

 

Metuh is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alongside his company, Destra Investment, on a seven-count charge of diversion of the money received when Sambo Dasuki was the National Security Adviser.

 

The former PDP spokesperson was also accused of spending about $2 million without going through a financial institution, in violation of a provision of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act. Metuh and his company, pleaded not guilty to the charges when he was arraigned in January 2016.

 

During Tuesday’s court session, Metuh’s lawyer, Abel Ozioko argued that the money was transferred to Metuh to provide services and that it was not a contract. Ozioko noted that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has the power to pay money for such services.

 

Metuh’s lawyer said one of the prosecution witnesses admitted that apart from payment for a contract by the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA), ONSA is also involved in the payment for other services. Ozioko argued that the witness did not say the N400 million was for a contract, but for security services. He opined that there is no evidence contradicting services rendered as shown before the court. He urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused.

 

On his part, lawyer to Metuh’s company Tochukwu Onwugbufor, in his argument told the court that the EFCC had failed to prove the alleged offences. Onwugbufor said the prosecution is deemed to have admitted all the points and issues raised therein and urged the court to hold that the origin of the money is legitimate and if so, the entire charge for money laundering failed.

 

The senior counsel said the prosecution had failed to prove that the case is a predicate offence. “Predicate offence is an offence which leads to money laundering,” he explained. – if those offences do not exist, there would be no money laundering,” Onwugbufor said.

 

He said the prosecution instead of relying on the law in Nigeria, “relied on UK law which has not crossed the Atlantic ocean, which has not reached the Supreme Court or even before your lordship. “If they prove the fact that tends to establish those offences, the court would, therefore, presume that those offence has been proved, the prosecution is now trying to be the judge and the court and I urge you, the court, to resist such,” Onwugbufor said. He then urged the court to discharge and acquit the defendant.

 

EFCC’s lawyer Sylvanus Tahir maintained that they had proved all the offences beyond a reasonable doubt. Tahir asked the court to pass a guilty verdict on the defendants. In a short ruling, Justice Abang fixed February 25, next year to give a verdict.