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Olisa Metuh’s corruption trial: Supreme Court berates SAN defending accused firm

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an application by Destra Investment Ltd, a company belonging to a former Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in its trial.

The Court also condemned the action of the lawyer representing Destra Investment, Tochukwu Onwubufor, for insisting on his application despite constitutional provisions against his method of argument.

Mr. Metuh and his company are facing a seven-count charge for alleged diversion of N400 million from the Office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

Destra Investment had through Mr. Onwubufor challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, venue of the trial, to entertain counts one and two of the charge.

According to Mr. Onwubufor, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the court lacks jurisdiction to try allegations of corruption emanating from a contractual agreement.

The application had earlier been dismissed by the Appeal Court, resulting in the further appeal to the Supreme Court.

In a ruling on Friday by a five-member panel of Justices led by Justice Dattijo Mohammed, the court berated Mr. Onwubufor for presenting the said application in before the apex court, despite constitutional provisions.

According to Justice Sumai Akaahs who read out the judgment, the application by Mr. Onwubufor amounted to an attempt to frustrate the ongoing trial.

Mr. Akaahs said although the applicant has a right of objection as contained in section 396 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, he ought to have taken his objection together with the substantive application at the FHC.

“Such objection can only be considered along with the substantive issues and a ruling delivered on it at the time of delivery of judgment,” he said.

“Despite these clear provisions, learned senior counsel still came up to this court challenging the ruling of the trial court.

“Whether a person or company or person has been accused of an infraction of the law, the duty that a senior counsel owes by the privileges bestowed on him is to help the accused person or company clear their name through due legal process and not to create the impression that his duty is to erect roadblocks to frustrate justice from running its course.

“I find that there is no merit in the appeal; it is a storm in a teacup.

“The case is remitted to the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for speedy conclusion of the case,” Mr. Akaahs said.

Mr. Metuh’s trial at the FHC is expected to continue this month.


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