The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will, on May 30, re-arraign former National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, on allegations bordering on N400 million fraud.
Metuh is expected to be re-arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered on Monday from Court 8, where Justice Nwite presides, that hearing notices had already been issued, though it could not confirm if counsel to the parties had been communicated.
NAN reports on Feb. 15 that the retrial of the ex-PDP spokesman had been reassigned to Nwite, the new judge in the Abuja division.
Prior to the reassignment, the matter was before a sister judge, Obiora Egwuatu.
The matter was assigned to Justice Egwuatu last year following his transfer to Abuja division of the court.
Egwatu had fixed Oct. 14, 2021, for Metuh’s re-arraignment after the Court of Appeal’s decision which nullified the trial court’s judgment.
But on the adjourned date, the judge was not in court.
He was said to have gone for the judges’ seminar in Lagos State.
The court, therefore, fixed Feb. 15 for the former PDP spokesman’s retrial.
But a check by NAN at Court 9, where the matter was expected to take place showed that the case between the Federal Government and Metuh was not on the cause list.
However, NAN gathered that the matter, which was yet to commence before Egwuatu, had been reassigned to Justice Nwite, who was recently transfered to Abuja division after the retirement of Justice Anwuli Chikere.
It was, however, gathered at Court 8, the chamber of Nwite, that the deputy chief registrar of FHC had informed that many case files be transfered to Nwite’s court, including Metuh’s matter.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja had, on Dec. 16, 2020, nullified a Federal High Court judgement that convicted and sentenced Metuh to seven years imprisonment for money laundering.
In a unanimous decision, a three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court held that the judgment of the trial judge, Okon Abang, delivered against Metuh on Feb. 25, 2020, was tainted with bias.
The appellate court held that Abang had by disparaging remarks he made in the judgement betrayed his premeditated mindset against the defendant (Metuh) whom he accused of writing various petitions against him.
According to Justice Stephen Adah who delivered the lead verdict of the appellate court, allowing the trial court’s verdict to stand “will set a dangerous precedent.”
Consequently, it voided the conviction and sentence that was handed to Metuh and his firm, Destra Investment Limited, and remitted the case file back to the high court for a re-trial by another judge.
Metuh was jailed over an allegation that he received the sum of N400 million from the former National Security Adviser, Col. (retd.) Sambo Dasuki, prior to the 2015 presidential election, without contract approval or execution.
His earlier conviction followed a seven-count charge that was preferred against him and his firm by the EFCC. (NAN)