Emeka Etiaba, a defence lawyer to a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, announced his withdrawal from the case during the Monday’s proceedings of Metuh’s trial before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Etiaba announced his withdrawal from the case after the judge, Justice Okon Abang, insisted that the trial would continue in the aftermath of Metuh’s fall while the proceedings were about to begin Monday.
Metuh fell while making his way to the dock. The judge insisted that the defence should call its next witness.
“It will be against all procedure of trial to say I want to continue when my client is lying down and I don’t know whether he is dead or alive,” Etiaba said.
But the judge refused Etiaba’s application to withdraw from the trial, saying “it is an attempt to delay this trial”.
The lawyer however, while he remained in the court, insisted that he had withdrawn from the case.
He refused to offer further contributions even when asked for by the judge.
Metuh, who with his company, Destra Investment Limited, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the N400m he allegedly received fraudulently from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014, fell down, shortly after the case was called on Monday.
The incident happened at about 9.01am in the courtroom on Monday.
Metuh, who was seated in the courtroom close to the dock before the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, began sitting.
But Metuh fell as he was moving towards the dock.
The judge had to stand down the matter to enable medical officials to attend to the defendant.
The court’s medical officials, whose attention were called after the incident, entered the courtroom at about 9.19am.
On resuming sitting, the judge asked three of the court’s officials to narrate what happened.
They all said Metuh defied the judge’s warning not to go to the dock but to remain seated in his position.
One of the doctors who attended to Metuh has informed the judge that the defendant needed to see his doctor.
When the judge asked him for his opinion, EFCC’s lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, did not oppose the application stop hearing to enable the defendant to see his doctor.