Court throws out Metuh’s application for stay of proceedings, berates defence

Posted by News Express | 19 June 2017 | 1,543 times

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•The accused, Olisa Metuh.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on Monday dismissed an application by a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, seeking a stay of further proceedings following June 9, 2017 ruling of the Supreme Court dismissing a similar application by the defendant.

The apex court, had in the said ruling, validated Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which prohibits courts from entertaining such applications.

Metuh is standing trial alongside Destra Investment on a seven-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N400 million, which he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in 2014 without justification.

The trial had been put on hold since December 16, 2016 due to interlocutory applications by Metuh’s counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, seeking for a stay of proceedings pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter.

The defence argued that, “although the applications are similar, the High Court ought to defer proceedings as the Supreme Court had already begun hearing the appeal”.

In his ruling today, Justice Abang dismissed the application relying on Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

“This court has no power to stay proceedings in a criminal matter,” the judge held.

Justice Abang, also in a separate ruling, dismissed another application seeking the release of Metuh’s international passport as well as leave to allow the defendant to travel to the United Kingdom to seek medical attention.

Describing it as a ‘contentious application’, Justice Abang described the application as “lacking in merit”.

While referring to the submissions previously made by the second applicant, the judge expressed displeasure at what he called ‘wild allegations’ deposed to by the defendant which alleged that the court raised the issue of jurisdiction suo motu and did not afford counsels the opportunity to address the court before it went ahead to decide the matter.

Reacting to the allegation Justice Abang said, “The second defendant’s counsel is most unfair to this court and Gerard Ajoku lied under oath. This is grossly unethical and a reckless abuse of judicial process. I leave them to their conscience”.

He went on: “No counsel should mislead the court. The records show that the court invited parties to address the court briefly as to whether the court has jurisdiction to release international passport on March 23, 2016. The second defendant applicant was party to the proceedings on that day and the decision can only be said to be a nullity if parties were not given a chance to be heard.

“Any complaint against the said decision can only be heard in appeal. None of the parties appealed the decision in upward of 10months. The second defendant applicant suddenly woke up from his slumber after 10months to complain that the decision is a nullity.”

Dismissing the application the judge said: “This application lacks judicial support and is unknown to law. The application lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed.”

Consequently, Justice Abang adjourned to June 20, 2017 for continuation of trial.

Source: News Express

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