Home News Metuh defends lawyer’s absence in court, denies feigning illness

Metuh defends lawyer’s absence in court, denies feigning illness

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Olisa Metuh

The embattled former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, has described as worrisome the submissions of a Federal High Court judge, Okon Abang, regarding his health and the ‘disappearance’ of the defendant’s lawyer, Emeka Etiaba.

In a statement by the special assistant to Metuh on Sunday, the former spokesperson said Abang was duly informed about Etiaba’s reason for absenting himself from recent court sittings, as opposed to the submissions of the court.

The statement signed by the Aide, Ishaya Maji, also denied the declaration by Abang that Metuh’s fall, while approaching the dock on May, 21 resulted from his refusal to obey court orders.

Metuh told the court, in 2016, that he was diagnosed with spinal cord injuries and required the leave of court to attend to his health condition.

On May 21, Metuh who had appeared in court on a stretcher in February, fell while attempting to enter the dock at the start of hearing.

“How can Metuh be accused of feigning an illness he has been managing at the National Hospital, Abuja for the past 14 years? How can he be accused of disobeying an order of court when the judge’s directive to the registrar to inform him to sit down came only when he saw him struggling with the walker to negotiate into the dock? How can he be accused of deliberately staging the fall when he knows the severe consequences of such to his health? How can he be accused of turning the court into an accident scene because medical doctors from the court were attending to him?

“For the records, it is not true that Metuh jumped bail. It is also not true that he did not provide any reasonable explanation for his absence in court. It is equally untrue that his counsel, Emeka Etiaba, did not provide any reasonable explanation for his absence.

“The truth of the matter is that the very next day after Metuh’s fall, his counsel, Emeka Etiaba, duly informed the court in open session that the medical team of the Federal High Court had taken him to the National Hospital for admission. It is pertinent to note that the court permitted the medical team to take him to hospital.

“The explanation of Metuh’s whereabouts was further reinforced by a letter from the National Hospital duly annexed as exhibit in an affidavit of facts by his brother and duly filed before the court ruling on Wednesday morning.”

Metuh is facing trial on a seven-count charge of alleged diversion of N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

He is being tried alongside his company, Dextra Investment Limited.

Several attempts to get the court’s approval to travel for his treatment, however failed.

Following his fall, a medical doctor, working with the court examined the defendant and submitted that he required immediate evacuation to the hospital for treatment.

An enraged Abang however queried the doctor’s submissions and attempted to proceed with the hearing of testimonies from a defence witness, when Etiaba announced his decision to withdraw from the matter.

According to the Senior Advocate, his decision to recuse himself was informed by the reaction of Abang to the fallen client.

“I cannot remain in court and continue to defend a man whose medical condition I do not know. Whether he is dead or alive,” Mr Etiaba said while explaining his reaction to the situation to journalists.

Etiaba’s application for withdrawal was however refused by Abang on the grounds that the decision was “a ploy to delay the trial.”.

The court also ruled against a request by the defence lawyers to adjourn the matter till Metuh is fit enough to return to trial.

In a ruling on Friday, Abang closed the case of the first defendant, on the grounds that Etiaba was not in court to announce the appearance of other witnesses and that the lawyer “failed to provide a reason for his absence”.