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Court strikes out retrial suit against Olisa Metuh

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, struck out  the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, for retrial.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, described the seven-count criminal charge in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2022 filed by the EFCC, as “an abuse of court process.”

The anti-graft agency had filed the suit before Nwite for the retrial of Metuh (1st defendant) and his company, Destra Investments Ltd, listed as the 2nd defendant in the case.

Justice Nwite held that he aligned with the arguments of counsel for Mr Metuh, Afam Osigwe, SAN, and lawyer to his company, Tochukwu Onwugbufor, SAN, that while the matter was pending before the Supreme Court, it was a gross abuse of the court for the commission to have filed the same matter for retrial before him.

The matter, which was number eight on the cause list, was scheduled for Metuh, who was in court, to take his plea.

However, at the resumed hearing, Justice Nwite asked counsel for the EFCC, Olanrewaju Adeola, about the current position of the matter.

Mr Adeola informed that Mr Metuh was convicted by the trial court and went to Court of Appeal where the decision of the lower court was upturned.

“We challenged the decision of the Appeal Court. We understand that the matter was listed this morning at the instance of the defendant for application for his international passport,” he said.

Responding, Mr Osigwe said that Mr Metuh got information about the matter at the FHC on social media that this matter would commence.

He, however, said that he had earlier had a discussion with the EFCC lawyer on the current position of the matter, “because there is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court in suit number: SC/ CR/583/2021 between FG Vs. Olisa Metuh and another.

“In that appeal, EFCC as a prosecution seeks, among others, the Supreme Court’s order, reinstating the order of this Hon court which was set aside by the Court of Appeal.

“So in the light of the reliefs sought in that appeal, it will amount to an abuse of court process for a fresh prosecution to be commenced when they are asking for reinstatement.

“My learned friend representing the EFCC will also agree with me that this court will either stay proceeding or strike out the application,” he said.

Mr Onwugbufor, who spoke in the same vein, said he filed a motion; a written application before the court to clear any doubt about the position of the suit.

“The application is dated Sept. 20, 2022 and filed on Sept. 22, 2022,” he said.

He said after the appeal by Mr Metuh and his company at the Court of Appeal, it was decided that the judgment of the FHC was a nullity and ordered a new trial.

He said besides the prosecution which appealed against that judgment at the Supreme Court, Mr Metuh and his company also appealed against the said Appeal Court judgment.

The senior lawyer said that the anti-corruption agency approached the apex court on the ground that the Appeal Court did not determine the whole appeal.

“Actually, what was determined at appeal was the issue of bias. But the EFCC is asking that the FHC judgment should either be reinstated or send back to Court of Appeal for retrial.

“My client is also asking the Supreme Court that the Appeal Court did not take into consideration that the whole trial was a nullity and should be dismissed in its entirety and discharge and acquitted the defendants,” he said.

Mr Onwugbufor said that was why he came with the motion on notice to enable the court determine whether it could try Metuh or not.

Mr Adeola, who represented the EFCC, however prayed that rather than striking out the suit, the court should adjourn the matter sine die (indefinitely) pending the hearing and determination of the appeal before the apex court.

“The submission of 1st and 2nd defendants’ counsel are to the effect that the charge be struck out or on the alternative, be adjourned sine die.

“For prosecution, we don’t have any problem with that sir.

“But in the interest of justice, the prosecution will be more comfortable if the matter was adjourned sine die,” he said.

However, Mr Osigwe argued that Mr Adeola’s submission was an admission that the present charge was an abuse of court process, urging the court to do the needful.

He further said that striking out the suit would not be prejudicial to the commission in any way.

“This suit cannot be pending in the light of the appeal pending before the Supreme Court and the proper order is to strike it out because the prosecution will not lose anything for striking it out,” he added.

Corroborating Mr Osigwe’s argument, Mr Onwugbufor said though the court had the discretion to either strike out or adjourn the matter indefinitely, he stressed that even after the apex court’s decision on the matter, he doubted if the matter would be reassigned to Justice Nwite.

“This is so because the matter can be heard at Appeal Court and it will go back to Supreme Court for final decision.

“So I urge my lord to strike it out,” he said.

In his ruling, the judge said after listening to the submissions of the counsel in the suit, there was no way the matter could come back to his court without resolving the issues before the Supreme Court.

“I agree with the argument of the 1st defendant concurred by the 2nd defendant that it is an abuse of court process and I so hold,” he said.

He then struck the suit out for being an abuse of court process.

On June 22, it was reported that the court had ordered that hearing notices of the next adjourned date fixed for today (Sept. 26) be served on Metuh, who was not in court and counsel for the EFCC.

The development followed the absence of counsel for the prosecution and defence in court after the matter was called.

The court had, on May 30, fixed June 22 for the mention of the matter due to the absence of the judge in court.

Besides, the case was fixed for mention following the EFCC’s appeal at the Supreme Court on the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal in favour of Mr Metuh, it was reliably gathered.

On February 15, the retrial of the ex-PDP spokesman was reassigned to Justice Nwite, who was recently transferred to the Abuja division.

Prior to the reassignment, the matter, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2016 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs. Olisa Metuh and another, 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.

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Crime

Don’t take luggage you don’t know its content, NDLEA warns travellers

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has warned travellers against taking any luggage that they don’t know its content from anyone while travelling.

The agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, shared this information via his X account on Sunday.

Justifying his advice, he disclosed that two students, including a PhD student, ran into trouble when bottles of codeine syrup were discovered in luggage they were carrying for a female friend studying abroad.

The statement read, “A PhD student and another student studying abroad got into custody because bottles of codeine syrup were found in the luggage they picked for their female friend abroad.

“They would have been jailed if #ndlea_nigeria had not worked hard to ensure the owner was put on the next flight home….

“Reason why we warn you not to take any luggage you don’t know its content from anyone.

“Video shows how bags of opioids were concealed among spare parts coming from Onitsha heading to Mubi in Adamawa.”

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Crime

8 nabbed for allegedly vandalising railway sleepers, petroleum pipeline in Bauchi

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Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (), Bauchi Command, has arrested eight suspects for allegedly vandalising railway slippers, petroleum pipelines in the state.

NSCDC Commandant in the state, Mr Ileboye Olajide, who disclosed this while parading the suspects on Thursday in Bauchi, said that the suspects were also arrested for allegedly being in possession of fake currency notes.

Olajide said that the suspects were of three categories of offenders apprehended in one week.

“We got information from our people on the field that some people were vandalising railway sleepers at Dangubi village, along Gombe road.

“We immediately moved to the area and caught them with the 33 already removed sleepers. The suspects involved were actually four; two were arrested while two are at large,” he said.

The NSCDC commandant said five of the suspects were involved in vandalism of a petroleum pipeline at Kangere village on Gombe road in Bauchi Local Government Area, saying that they were handed over to the command by the Nigerian Army artillery unit.

He listed the items recovered from them to include: four motorcycles, various 25-litre cans of petrol and about 10 empty cans.

Olajide said that the suspects were caught while siphoning petroleum products, adding that they had confessed to the act.

The commandant added that another suspect was arrested for being in possession of fake 2,000 dollars in his house.

“Information provided by a woman he previously gave fake 100 dollars led to his arrest,” he said.
According to him, all the suspects will be handed over to relevant agencies after the conclusion of investigation for possible prosecution.

Olajide, however, warned that those nursing the idea of vandalising national infrastructure in the state to think twice, as they would not go scot free under his watch.

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Crime

Five suspects remanded for armed robbery in Ibadan

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Five men were remanded in a detention facility by the Iyaganku Magistrates’ Court in Ibadan on Tuesday over allegations of armed robbery.

The suspects identified as Abiodun Solomon (24), Abdulahi Alejolowo (26), Emmanuel Ayobami (31), Kazeem Saka (37), and Taofeek Lawal (35), with undisclosed addresses, are accused of conspiracy and armed robbery.

According to the prosecutor, Insp Olalekan Adegbite, the defendants allegedly committed the offense around 2 a.m. on January 8 in the Olode neighborhood of Ibadan. Adegbite stated that the defendants assaulted individuals in the neighborhood using weapons and proceeded to rob them of their cell phones, jewelry, electrical gadgets, cash, and other valuables.

The prosecutor said that these actions contravened Sections 6(B) and 1(2) of Nigeria’s Robbery and Firearms Laws of 2004.

However, Magistrate Oluwabusayo Osho declined to accept the defendants’ plea due to jurisdictional limitations and instructed that the case file be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for legal guidance. The matter was adjourned until April 29 for mention.

This incident follows a similar case reported  last Friday, where the Iyaganku Magistrates’ Court remanded three men – Jiya Adams (44), Joseph Abidoye (39), and Femi Adetunji (40) – on allegations of kidnapping. The accused individuals, also without disclosed addresses, faced charges of conspiracy, armed robbery, and abduction.

Magistrate Olaolu Olanipekun adjoined the case till May 13 for further hearing after directing the prosecution to duplicate the case file and send it to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for legal advice.

The prosecution counsel, ASP Anthony Igori, alleged that the defendants, along with others, attacked an expatriate and proprietor of Saco Nigeria Ltd., Mr. Mohammed Il-Saheed, stole his Samsung cell phone valued at N800,000, and abducted him, collecting a N35 million ransom before releasing him after six days in captivity.

These incidents underscore the ongoing efforts by law enforcement to address criminal activities in Ibadan and uphold the rule of law.

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