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Judge rejects Olisa Metuh’s lawyer’s attempt to recuse self
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has rejected the attempt by Emeka Etiaba, counsel to Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to withdraw from the corruption case against Metuh.
Etiaba’s withdrawal attempt on Monday followed the insistence of Justice Abang to go ahead with Metuh’s trial despite the fact that the accused person collapsed in court.
Metuh is being tried for allegedly receiving N400 million from Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser, who is also in detention for allegedly embezzling the sum of $2.1 billion which was meant for the purchase of arms for the Nigeria Armed Forces.
Both Dasuki and Metuh pleaded not guilty to the respective charges.
At the resumption of the trial on Monday, Metuh, was called to take the accused person’s dock, but he collapsed as he approached the dock.
A medical expert attached to the court was called in to access Metuh’s condition, after which Justice Abang ordered the trial to continue, calling on the defence counsel to call its witness.
But instead of calling a witness, Etiaba, Metuh’s lawyer said he was recusing himself from the trial.
“The 1st defendant had a terrible fall while trying to mount the dock, and I don’t even know if he is alive on that stretcher,” Etiaba said.
“Since the court has insisted on proceeding with trial, I announce my withdrawal from the trial.”
However, Justice Abang refused to allow Etiaba to withdraw from the trial, and he proceeded by asking the defence counsel questions which he refused to answer.
Obviously dissatisfied at how the trial was going, Abang threatened to discharge the accused person, while also voicing his displeasure with both the prosecution and defence teams.
He subsequently adjourned the case till the Tuesday for continuation.
Metuh’s corruption trial has been dramatic right from its inception. In the course of the trial, Metuh had caused the court to subpoena both Dasuki and former President Goodluck Jonathan, but while the former has testified in the matter, it is not clear if the latter has even been served the subpoena.
Also, Metuh has been hospitalised with a purported spinal cord ailment for which, according to medical reports presented in court, he would need to travel abroad for better treatment.
However, Justice Abang refused to grant him leave to travel. Several times Metuh had been brought to court on a stretcher, after the trial Judge threatened to revoke his bail if he continued to stay away from trial.