Court Dismisses EFCC’s Lawsuit Against Olisa Metuh Over N400 Million Fraud
The Federal High Court’s Abuja Division dismissed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) request for a new trial against Olisa Metuh, the former national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Monday.
In a ruling, Justice Emeka Nwite referred to the seven-count criminal charge in a lawsuit filed by the EFCC with the file number FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2022 as “an abuse of court process.”
The anti-graft agency had brought the case before Mr. Nwite seeking a new trial for Mr. Metuh (the first defendant) and his business, Destra Investments Ltd., who was named as the second defendant.
Mr Nwite held that he agreed with the arguments of counsel for Mr Metuh, Afam Osigwe and lawyer to his company, Tochukwu Onwugbufor, 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 Mr Metuh, who was in court, to take his plea.
However, at the resumed hearing, Mr 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 the Court of Appeal, where the lower court’s decision was upturned.
Responding, Mr Osigwe said Mr Metuh got information about the matter at the court on social media that the case would commence.
He, however, said he had earlier discussed 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.
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 September 20, 2022, and filed on September 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 High Court’s judgement was nullified and ordered a new trial.
He said besides the prosecution, which appealed against that judgement at the Supreme Court, Mr Metuh and his company also appealed against the said Appeal Court judgement.
The senior lawyer said that the anti-corruption agency approached the apex court because the Appeal Court did not determine the whole appeal.
Mr Onwugbufor said that was why he came with the motion on notice to enable the court to 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.
However, Mr Osigwe argued that Mr Adeola’s submission was an admission that the present charge was an abuse of the court process, urging the court to do the needful.
He further said striking out the suit would not be prejudicial to the commission.
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 Mr Nwite.
“This is so because the matter can be heard at the Appeal Court, and it will go back to the 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 first defendant concurred by the second defendant that it is an abuse of court process, and I so hold,” he said.
He then struck out the suit for being an abuse of the court process.
On June 22, the court had ordered that hearing notices of the next adjourned date fixed for today (September 26) be served on Mr Metuh, who was not in court and counsel for the EFCC.
Mr Metuh was jailed over an allegation that he received the sum of N400 million from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, before the 2015 presidential election, without contract approval or execution.
His earlier conviction followed a seven-count charge that was preferred against him and his firm by the EFCC.