The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Court, Mr. Olisa Metuh, has applied to a Federal High Court in Abuja for the release of his passport to enable him to travel to the United Kingdom for medical treatment.
Justice Okon Abang had ordered Metuh to deposit his passport with the court’s registrar as part of the bail conditions granted him on January 19, 2016, with respect to his ongoing trial before the court.
Metuh, by his motion filed on May 16, seeks orders directing the court’s registrar to release his passport to him and to permit him to travel to the United Kingdom for five weeks to get treatment.
He stated in the application that his decision to seek treatment abroad was informed by the advice by a neurosurgeon in the National Hospital, Abuja following the injury he allegedly sustained after falling from a chair at the national secretariat on April 26.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, on seven counts, including alleged fraudulent receipt of N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014 to fund Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential campaign ahead of the 2015 poll.
Other counts preferred against Metuh include alleged money laundering offences involving cash transaction of $2m without passing through a financial institution.
Justice Abang on Thursday reluctantly adjourned Metuh’s trial and the hearing of his fresh motion seeking the release of his passport till May 23, after his lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), complained that his client’s condition worsened overnight.
Etiaba told the judge that Metuh was rushed to hospital at about 1am on Thursday following a sudden change in his condition.
He said he read Metuh’s text message about the overnight development on Thursday morning but insisted that the defendant must attend the day’s proceedings.
He said he met Metuh at the court’s car park on Thursday and realised that the PDP’s spokesperson had vommitted in his car.
The lawyer said, “Waking up this morning, I read a text from the first defendant (Metuh) informing me that he was rushed to the National Hospital by 1am.
“My lord, I read that text this morning when I woke up and I responded that whatever it is he must be in court.
“I drove in this morning and he (Metuh) was at the car park in his car. On getting there I realised that he had vommited profusely and his brother-in-law Mr. Andy, narrated how he was rushed to the hospital last night.
“On getting to the hospital, they met a lady doctor who said the nurses were on strike but they administered injection and drugs to him.
“They also gave him a room but he was advised that since they had given him medical attention, that he should go home because the injection administered to him would make him to sleep.
“He was also informed that because of the strike, the only available room was not cleaned up. He was advised to come back to the hospital by 8am.. he was only here based on my advice.
“Our application this morning is for an adjournment.
But for the reason that the 1st defendant is very weak, there is need to report back to the hospital because he cannot stand trial.
“I therefore plead with my lord to indulge us because this is a life threatening-situation. The defendant needs to stay alive to face his trial. This is a passionate appeal.”
Destra Investment Limited’s lawyer, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), supported the application for adjournment.
Prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, described Etiaba’s submission as an “oral affidavit” but that he would not oppose the application for adjournment since it had to do with the defendant’s health.
Justice Abang in a bench ruling also said the issues raised by Etiaba were merely “sentimental” as there was no evidence apart from the lawyer’s oral submission to back the ill health claim.
The judge said the defendant ought to have invited the doctor who attended to Metuh in the hospital to give evidence on oath with respect to the defendant’s ill health.
But the judge said notwithstanding the failure of the defendant’s lawyer to adduce tenable evidence, he would adjourn the case because “the court is also human”.
He adjourned till May 23 but with a directive that the trial would proceed day to day in line with provisions of section 396(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice.