A Federal High Court in Abuja has remanded the spokesman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, in prison following his ‘not guilty’ plea to a seven-count charge of corruption and money laundering.
Mr Metuh appeared in court on Friday, days after he was arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the charges.
According to the charges, the PDP spokesman transferred the sum of $1 million through his agent, Nneka Nicole Ararume, to one Sie Iyenome of Capital Field Investment, committing an offense contrary to Section One of the Money Laundering Act.
He is also accused of receiving the sum of 400 million Naira from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, without a contract contrary to the Money Laundering Act.
Mr Metuh, is also accused of converting the said money to funds for political activities of the People’s Democratic Party.
He pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
Attempts by his counsel, Ifedayo Fadipe, to make an oral application for bail was rejected by the counsel to the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, who insisted that such an application could not be made orally.
Having listen to the two parties Justice Obong Abang agreed with the EFCC that such an application could not be made orally.
He then ordered Mr Metuh and his counsel to file his bail application within the next six hours, while the EFCC is to respond 24 hours after service of the of the bail application.
Hearing in the bail application has been adjourned to January 19.
before Mr Metuh was arraigned, the anti-graft agency asked him to return the money to effect his release.
Days after Mr metuh was held in detention, the opposition party’s federal lawmakers gave the EFCC 48 hours to either release its spokesman or charge him for the crime he was accused of.
The PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, led by the Minority Leader of the House, Representative Leo Ogor, said Mr Metuh had not committed any treasonable offence and should not be detained indefinitely.
Threatening to give the issue an international dimension should he be kept in detention without bail, the caucus said “the continued incarceration of the party’s spokesperson violates the law and borders on witch hunt”.
Another issue raised by the PDP caucus was what the members in the House of Representatives termed preferential treatment given to a member of the ruling party, Mr Jafaru Isa, who was also arrested over the same diversion of funds but was released eight hours later.
In defence to claims of preferential treatment, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Parry Ariase, argued that the APC member in question was released after he refunded part of the money he collected illegally from the office of national security adviser and that he still has a case to answer.