By TAIYE AGBAJETO
ABUJA- A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday fixed June 22 to hear a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the retrial of Chief Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The court fixed the date following the EFCC’s appeal at the Supreme Courtl of the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal in favour of Metuh, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reliably gathered.
Although the matter was listed on the Monday’s cause list, the trial judge, Emeka Nwite, was not in court.
NAN reports that the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2016 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs. Olisa Metuh and another, was listed as number 16 on the cause list.
But due to the absence of the judge, the matter could not go on and the case adjourned until June 22 for mention.
NAN reports on Feb. 15 that the retrial of the ex-PDP spokesman had been reassigned to Nwite, who was recently transferred to 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 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.
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.
But NAN reliably gathered on Monday that the anti-corruption commission has appealed the judgment of the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court.
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)