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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Court gives condition for granting Olisa Metuh’s application to travel for medicals



Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on Thursday, March 15, 2018, gave condition upon which the court would decide whether or not to grant the application by the embattled former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Metuh is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja, for allegedly receiving N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, in 2014 to run advocacy campaign for former President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Metuh’s counsel, Emeka Etiaba, had on March 14, 2018 through an application dated and filed on February 23, 2018 sought leave of the court for the release of Metuh’s international passport to enable him travel abroad on health grounds.

Counsel to the EFCC, Silvanus Tahir, had opposed the application on the ground that similar applications have been made before and the court rejected it.

According to Tahir, “No circumstance has changed to make this application different from the previous ones. The only thing that has changed is the timing of the application; it is still the same ill health”. 

After joining issues, the judge adjourned to today for the parties to address the court on points of law.

At the resumed sitting, Etiaba, referred to paragraph 8 of the counter affidavit as “incompetent” and faulted some other paragraphs, insisting that the deponent did not disclose his source of information.

His words: “Our complaint against the paragraph goes to the substance of the depositions and not to the form as the prosecutor posited.

“What it all means is that Section 113 of the Evidence Act cannot be held to the complainant.

“Those paragraphs must be discountenanced on the second point that Exhibit 3 is a documentary hear-say and that it stands on nothing”. 

Etiaba also told the court that the ‘Exhibit 3’ disclosed one Dr. Raymond Onwuelo as the one who made the reference stressing that the materials employed by the maker of ‘Exhibit 3’ were disclosed as neurosurgical report from Nigeria.

He further argued that it was wrong for the prosecution to say that ‘Exhibit 3’ stands on nothing and that it is a documentary hear-say.

The learned silk referred the court to the case of Buhari versus Obasanjo 2015, 13 Nigeria Weekly Law Report, Part 941, page 317 and submitted the “exhibit 3 does not qualify as a documentary hear-say”.

He also told the court that the prosecution was invited by Metuh to come up with its medical team, to ascertain whether there is falsehood in the materials presented before the court.
He submitted that “having failed to produce medical team to ascertain the health condition of the first defendant (Metuh), the prosecution should be stopped from raising issues relating to whether the first defendant is ill or not”.

Tochuckwu Onwugbufor, SAN, counsel to the second defendant (Destra Investment Limited), also aligned himself with the arguments and submission of Etiaba.

Responding, Tahir vehemently disagreed with the arguments canvassed by the defence, using literal example to drive home his point.

“Let us put it in this context. In oral hearsay evidence, Mr. A tells somebody what Mr. C told him and the original person is not called to say by himself what he knows; that is oral hearsay”, Tahir said.

He continued by telling the court that with respect to ‘Exhibit 3’, the author of document referred to two reports: “One issued in January 2017 and the other, on January 30, 2018 by one Dr. Raymond Onwuelo”.

According to him, what Exhibit 3 was referring to was “a documentary hearsay. Them-say, them-say. What are they saying?”, Tahir queried.

He urged the court to hold that ‘Exhibit 3’ was a ‘documentary hearsay’.

After listening to arguments of both counsels, Justice Abang asked parties to submit all authorities cited to the court before the close of work today or before noon on Friday.

The judge added that upon the receipt of the authorities, the court will determine the date for ruling on the application.

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