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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

At dramatic bail hearing, lawyer denies Metuh tore own statement

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday granted bail to the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh.
To regain his freedom, Justice Okon Abang however said Mr. Metuh must deposit N400 million bail bond – same amount he is accused of illegally receiving; two sureties who must have properties in Maitama area of Abuja, and who must also deposit N200 million each.
Mr. Metuh is facing a seven-count charge of corruption.
He is accused of receiving N400 million from former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki. The amount is part of the allegedly diverted sum of $2.1 billion meant for the purchase of arms.
Upon resumption in court, Tuesday, Mr. Metuh’s counsel, Christ Uche, reminded the court that the most important condition for allowing an application for bail was the defendant’s availability for trial.
Mr. Uche said his client had shown unwavering determination to be available for trial.
He also said the allegation that Mr. Metuh attempted to tear his statement, was false, saying the EFCC failed to produce copies of the turn documents, as evidence that there was such an incident.
Citing Section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, Mr. Uche said his client was willing to comply with laid down rules for his bail.
He added that the EFCC failed in its duty to complete investigations before filing a charge against the defendant.
Mr. Uche prayed the court to grant his client bail on liberal terms, stressing that all those involved in the alleged $2.1 billion scandal, (Sambo Dasuki and Raymond Dokpesi) had previously been granted bail by the same court.
He also prayed the court to place an order restraining the EFCC from unduly arresting Mr. Metuh, saying his client has the right to enjoy the proposed bail.
But counsel to the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, asked the court to take into cognisance the possibility of the defendant attempting to jump bail, saying that he had exhibited tendencies of impeding with the process of investigation, while in the EFCC’s custody.
He said investigation into the allegation of money laundering was still ongoing and that findings could be made by the EFCC that would require the presence of Mr. Metuh at the commission for questioning.
Mr. Tahir added that the law empowered the EFCC to obtain an order of a Magistrate for the arrest of the accused.
He then prayed the court to refuse the application for bail adding that the applicants did not make available sufficient materials to support their prayer, a point vehemently opposed by Mr. Uche.
But Mr. Abang noted that the EFCC’s claim that the defendant may attempt to impede with the process of justice, based on an earlier allegation of Mr. Metuh’s behaviour while in the commission’s custody, were mere speculation.
He said the EFCC was yet to produce evidence that proved that Mr. Metuh attempted to tear his statement, before the court.
“Section 135, (1) and (2) says the burden of prove of such allegation and crime must be made by the person alleging it,” said Mr. Abang.
He further said there were no facts before the court to back the said allegations, adding that the court cannot deny Mr. Metuh bail on the basis of a mere speculation.
Mr. Abang then ruled that the sureties to be provided by Mr. Metuh must produce documents of Certificate of Occupancy for the assets they have at Maitama, with two passports attached, along with three years certificate of tax clearance for the said assets.
He added that the sureties must swear an affidavit to take full responsibility of Mr. Metuh’s actions if he attempts to jump bail.
Mr. Metuh, who was also asked to submit his international passports to the office of the court registrar, was however refused his second prayer, which sought to prevent the EFCC from being able to rearrest him after he had been granted bail.
According to the judge, the details of the second prayer were not contained in the initial application, and were therefore refused.
Hearing into the substantive suit will start on January 25.

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