An application by the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, to compel the Department of State Services (DSS) to release former National Security Adviser, retired Col Mohammed Sambo Dasuki to testify as witness in an alleged N400m fraud was yesterdayrefused by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Also refused by the trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang, was another application by Metuh asking for a release of his international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical treatment.
Delivering his ruling on the application to subpeona the former NSA to testify in the matter, the court held that the application was lacking in merit, was done in bad faith with the intention of delaying the trial and consequently dismissed the application.
The Judge said Col. Dasuki was not a compellable witness in the trial since the defendant had not made any effort to invite him and failed.
Abang stated further, that there was nothing before the court to show that the defendants had made any effort to reach the authorities keeping Dasuki and it was rejected.
“It is not the duty of the court to compel anyone to come and give evidence in court when that person is not a compellable witness.
“The name of Dasuki was not included in the list of witnesses filed by the defendants. The question is, at what stage did the defendant made up his mind to include Dasuki’s name in its lists of witnesses, the judge queried.
While stating that the application was made in bad faith and with the intention to delay the trial, the court observed that the defendants have exhausted all the adjournment they are entitled to as stipulated in Section 394 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), and as such the 1st defendant is no longer entitled to any adjournment in the matter having granted 8 adjournment since the commencement of the trial.
“Therefore, the application to issue a subpoena will not serve any purpose. The law is no respecter of persons. This application is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed”, the court ruled.
On the other application which borders on release of Metuh’s International Passport to travel abroad for medical treatment, the court in turning down the request recalled, that the same application was earlier rejected by it and wondered why the defendant is bringing up the request a second time.
Abang said, “The defendant ought to have appeal the earlier ruling. This is not a sentimental or sympathetic issue. It is purely an issue of law. The applicant should not create problem for the court”.
After the ruling, Metuh’s counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu SAN, obviously not satisfied with the ruling told the court that the defendant lack confidence in the court to go on with the trial. According to him, the court has not only shown bias but clear bias against the 1st defendant and added that the ruling is against the interest of justice.
Ikpeazu therefore prayed the court to recuse itself from going on with the trial. “Every reasonable person in this country knows that we lack the capacity to meet the Department of State Service and request them to release Dasuki to come and testify.
“The court has clearly displayed act of bias against the 1st defendant” Ikpeazu said.
But prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir urged the court not to take the allegations of bias seriously. Tahir also dismissed the claim of the defendants that he cannot proceed in the matter without the presence of Dasuki, arguing that the defendant in his additional list of witnesses it intended to call has only called one thereby leaving him with three others.
He described the stand of the defendant as misconceived and is not accommodated in law.
He therefore urged the court to order the defendants to proceed with their defence pending when they put their house in order to produce an appropriate witness.
Meanwhile, Justice Abang after listening to the submissions in a short ruling described the statement made by Metuh’s counsel as “contemptuous” of the court.
He said, in contempt of the court, the judge is the complainant as well as the judge but added that he will not take action against Ikpeazu for the contemptuous remarks. “Not because of fear or act of cowardice but because the court is trained to develop thick skin against such statements and also trained not to pick offence when offended”, he stated.
Justice Abang also throw out the applicant for the court to recuse itself for lacking in merit saying, there is nothing before the court to show that it was bias in its earlier ruling and directed Ikpeazu to call his witness to continue the trial.
Following the request for adjournment by Ikpeazu which was not opposed by the prosecution counsel, the court adjourned the matter to March 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 for Metuh to close his case and 2nd defendant Destra to open his defence.
Metuh is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, for allegedly receiving the sum of N400m from the former NSA and using same for the campaign activities of the PDP in the 2015 general elections.