The trial of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, which has been on suspension for about six months is to resume Tuesday before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Justice Okon Abang on Monday fixed Tuesday for continuation of the trial after dismissing Metuh’s application for stay of proceedings in obedience to the June 9, 2017, ruling of the Supreme Court.
The judge, also in a separate ruling, dismissed another application seeking the release of the Metuh’s passport which is in the court’s custody.
The trial had been put on hold due to interlocutory applications by the defence since December 16, 2016, when Metuh called his sixth witness.
But ordering the resumption of trial on Tuesday, Justice Abang ruled, “The coast is now clear for the resumption of the trial that was suspended to abide the outcome of the application dated March 17, 2017. The application has been dismissed.
“In the light of this, the matter is adjourned until 1 pm on June 20, 2017, for further hearing of the first defendant’s case.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, before Justice Okon Abang at the Federal High Court in Abuja on seven counts of fraud and money laundering charges.
The alleged offences involved the sums of $2m and N400m which the defendants allegedly received unjustifiably from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014 allegedly to fund the PDP’s 2015 presidential campaign.
In his first ruling delivered Monday, Justice Abang dismissed an application by Metuh seeking an order of stay of proceedings in the trial.
The ruling followed the June 9, 2017, decision of the Supreme Court dismissing a similar application by Metuh.
The apex court, had in the said ruling, validated section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which prohibits courts from entertaining such application for stay of proceedings.
Although Metuh had in his application dated March 17, 2017, only specifically asked the court to await and adjourn until after June 9, 2017, the date the Supreme Court had scheduled for its ruling, Justice Abang in his ruling on Monday said the application amounted to asking for a stay of proceedings.
“In my view, the application for an adjournment of further trial to abide the occurrence of an event in future is seeking to stay proceedings,” Justice Abang ruled.
Dismissing the application in line with the June 9, 2017,decision of the Supreme Court, Justice Abang ruled, “By virtue of section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 this court has no power to stay proceedings in a criminal trial.”
In the second ruling, Justice Abang also dismissed an application filed by counsel for Destra Investment Limited’s lawyer, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), asking the court to release Metuh’s passport to enable him (Metuh) to travel to the United Kingdom for medical treatment for a period of five weeks.
Justice Abang, in dismissing the application said he lacked jurisdiction to reopen the issue having heard parties and a considered ruling delivered on it on May 25, 2016.