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N400m fraud: Drama as Metuh’s lawyer withdraws after his collapse in court

A mild drama ensued at the courtroom of the Federal High Court in Abuja before Justice Okon Abang on Monday as the former National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, collapsed in court.

Metuh and his company Destra Investment limited are standing trial on seven count charge for alleged N400m fraud.

But amidst the drama, Justice Abang threatened to strike out the charge in which Metuh had called 11 defence witnesses. He said if the prosecuting lawyer who acceded to request for adjournment continue to agree to the defence lawyer’s flimsy excuses, he would strike out the matter.

Metuh had collapsed while trying to enter the dock after his case was called. The judge insisted that the defence should call its next witness.

But, the lawyer to Metuh, Mr Emeka Etiaba (SAN), said “It will be against all procedure of trial to say I want to continue when my client is lying down and I don’t know whether he is dead or alive.” He therefore orally applied to withdraw his appearances on the matter.

But the judge refused Etiaba’s application to withdraw from the trial, saying that, “It is an attempt to delay this trial”.
Etiaba, although remained in the court, insisted that he had withdrawn from the case. He refused to offer further contributions even when asked for by the judge.

The court medical officials including a female doctor that were hurriedly invited by the registrar to attend to Metuh, who was lying on the floor of the courtroom. The incident happened at about 9.01am in the courtroom on Monday.

As a result of incident, Justice Abang rose for 29 minutes and upon return, he demanded from the court registrar, and two other clerks what transpired in court when the matter was called for continuation of trial.

But while the proceeding was on, the Medical Doctor from the court told Justice Abang that Metuh needed to be taken to the hospital for further examination due to the fall.

The judge asked for the response of the prosecuting lawyer, Silvanus Tahir, who said he would not be opposing an adjournment based on the opinion of a Medical Doctor from the Federal High Court.

In his remark, the judge stated that the Federal High Court has nothing against Metuh, saying that it is the duty of the prosecution to prosecute its case.

The judge said, “This is not a case of the Federal High Court. If the prosecution does not want to proceed with the trial, the court will strike out the case”.

In his brief ruling on the matter, the judge said :”In view of the application of the Medical Doctor in the employment of Federal High Court, that was not in court at the commencement of proceeding, and there being no objection, and since it is a medical opinion, this matter is adjourned to May 22.”

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Ihesiulo Grace

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