A Federal High Court in Abuja has ended the defence of former spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh in his trial for alleged money laundering.
Justice Okon Abang, in a ruling on Friday, closed the case of Metuh (the 1st defendant) after his 11th witness; Oladeji Bamidele (an Advertising consultant) ended his testimony.
The judge said he was closing the 1st defendant’s case because neither he nor his lawyer was in court to explain whether or not Metuh planned to call additional witnesses after his 11th witness.
He said the court could not take their decision for them.
Metuh’ who is being tried, with his company, Destra Investment Limited, has ceased to attend court since May 21 this year when he fell in court and had to be taken for medical attention.
His lead lawyer, Emeka Etiaba (SAN) and other members of his legal team also stopped attending court from May 24.
When Bamidele, who was cross-examined by Destra’s lawyer, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), concluded his testimony on Friday, lead prosecution lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir urged the court to close the 1st defendant’s case since neither him nor his lawyer was in court to explain his next line of action.
Although Onwugbufor objected, the judge agreed with Tahir that the court could not wait indefinitely for a defendant who voluntarily refused to attend court and also had his lawyer abandon court without any explanation.
The judge also directed the the second defendant to open its defence on the next hearing date.
Justice Abang, who had on Wednesday, summoned two officials of Channels Television to show cause why they should not be compelled to produce a video recording of the station’s Sunrise Daily programme of May 22, commended them for promptly obeying the court.
The judge had, on May 23 summoned the television station’s officials following complaint by Tahir that a lawyer in Metuh’s legal team, Ben Chucks Nwosu made prejudicial comments about the case while featuring in Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily
Channels TV’s lawyer, Kelechi Nwaiwu told the court the two officials of the station, Oluyemisi Ipaye (Senior Manager, News and Corporate Services) and Maope Ogun-Yusuf (anchor of Sunrise Daily) have deposed to affidavit to show cause, as ordered by the court.
He said, in addition, the officials have also filed in court, copies of the digital video disc (DVD), containing the unedited recording of the Sunrise Daily programme of May 22.
The judge commended Channels TV for providing the recording of the programme even when the court has not formally ordered it to do so. Tahir and Onwugbufor also commended the television station.
Justice Abang said the court’s commendation of the television station was limited to its prompt production of the DVD recording of the programme and that the court will go further to investigate if it willfully yielded its platform from some individuals to cast aspersions on the court.
He adjourned to July 2 for continuation of trail, but ordered Channels TV to come to court on July 3, with its equipment to play the DVD for the court to see its content and decide what further steps should be taken.