Absence of defence counsel stalls Metuh’s trial in absentia
The absence of Olisa Metuh’s counsel, Mr Emeka Etiaba, on Thursday stalled the hearing in the ongoing trial of the former PDP Spokesman in a Federal High Court Abuja.
It will be recalled that the court had ruled on May 23 that the matter would go on in Metuh’s absence since he was absent in court on May 22 without any reasonable explanation.
When the matter was called, the prosecuting counsel Mr Sylvanus Tahir told the court that Metuh’s counsel was not in court and had not personally reached him to explain his absence.
“This matter was specifically adjourned until today at 1p.m and by my time it is 1.35p.m. I have not been personally contacted by the defence counsel but I don’t know if he is in contact with the court registry.”
Tahir asked the court to stand down the matter with the hope that Etiaba would contact the court before it was called again.
The judge, Justice Okon Abang, however, said that he was rather inclined adjourn the matter.
“I note here that the first defendant was not in court on May 22, the court then ruled that he jumped bail as the first defendant did not offer any reasonable explanation for being absent in court.
“The court subsequently decided that trial shall continue in this matter in his absence.
I am not inclined to stand down this matter rather I am inclined to adjourn this matter for continuation of trial,” the judge said.
He adjourned the matter until May 25 for continuation of trial.
Metuh fell down in the courtroom on May 21 while attempting to enter the dock.
At the resumed hearing on May 22, Tahir, following Metuh’s absence, prayed the court to proceed with the matter in his absence since Metuh’s fall was on account of disregard of court directives.
Tahir told the court that although the law said defendants in criminal matters must be present in court, there was an exception to the rule where a misconduct was established as in Metuh’s case.
The defence team opposed the application saying that Metuh was absent because he was receiving treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of the National Hospital Abuja.
On May 23, the court ruled in favour of continuing with the trial in Metuh’s absence and agreed with the prosecution that Metuh’s conduct on May 21 amounted to a misconduct since he disregarded the court’s directive.
The judge said that he had directed the registrar of the court to ask Metuh not to enter the dock but to remain on his seat which he ignored resulting in his fall.
NAN also reports that Metuh is standing trial along with his company, Destra Investments Limited, on a seven count charge which involves laundering $2 million.
He is also charged with fraudulently receiving N400 million from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.