Court Finds Olisa Metuh Guilty Of All Charges In N400m Fraud Case

Former PDP spokesman, Mr Olisa Metuh, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on February 25, 2020. PHOTOS: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has convicted Mr Olisa Metuh and found him guilty of all the charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a ruling which lasted hours on Tuesday, the trial judge took his time to take the counts in the N400 million fraud case against the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The EFCC charged Metuh, who is standing trial alongside his company, Destra investment, with seven counts of money laundering and criminal diversion of said fund which he received from the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Justice Abang explained that the actions of Colonel Dasuki led to the criminal breach of trust and official corruption involving Metuh.

He said the former PDP spokesman lacked any documentary evidence to show that former President Goodluck Jonathan authorised the release of N400 million purportedly for security reasons without a contractual agreement.

According to the trial judge, the prosecution need not have any evidence of Dasuki’s conviction before pushing for Metuh’s conviction.

 

Money Laundering

On Count One which bordered on money laundering, Justice Abang convicted the former PDP spokesman of Count One of the charges.

“It is my view that Metuh took possession of the N400 million from the office of the NSA without contractual agreement; he is guilty of money laundering and is hereby convicted on Count One.”

Shortly after he was convicted, the trial judged suspended reading the judgment to allow the former PDP spokesman use the gents.

Upon his return to the courtroom, Justice Abang proceeded with his judgement on the second count of the charges which bordered on the criminal conversion of N400 million.

According to him, the evidence before him shows that the money was used to fund activities of the PDP.

The judge added that Metuh also used the money to acquire a property at Banana Island in Lagos.

He explained that this was contrary to the e-payment mandate which stated that the money was meant for security services, whereas Dextra Investment was not a registered security outfit.

 

A Deliberate Act

Justice Abang insisted that the evidence pointed to the fact that the money was deliberately laundered to brighten the chances of the PDP during the general elections in 2015.

He added that Metuh failed to explain the transfer of N50 million from the N400 million to the joint account of himself and his wife

“It is, therefore, manifestly clear that the defendant converted the money for PDP campaign activities and I find him guilty and is hereby convicted accordingly,” the judge declared.

On Count Three which bordered on concealment of funds, Justice Abang says the e-payment mandate showed that the money was released for security services but was concealed and used for PDP campaign activities and personal use.

“I hereby find him guilty and convicted on Count Three,” he ruled.

The trial judge also delivered judgment on Count Four which was the allegation of illegal disbursement of funds.

He said the Prosecution placed credible evidence before the court which showed some of the unlawful acts of Colonel Sambo Dasuki as the NSA while in office.

Justice Abang held, “The first defendant was desirous of repositioning the PDP and he deployed the funds for that purpose and personal use.”

He noted that the meeting wherein former President Jonathan allegedly authorised the payment was tagged a ‘security meeting’.

 

Tissues Of Lies

But the judge wondered why only the former NSA and top officials of the PDP attended the meeting, yet Metuh claimed the money was disbursed for special national assignment, stressing that the first defendant was not a witness of truth.

He said, “I agree with the prosecution that Metuh’s claims are tissues of lies hurriedly put in place to divert the attention of the court from prying into the disbursement of the N400 million received from the office of the NSA through an under the table agreement.

“It is a case of public funds filtering into private hands for selfish reasons.”

Justice Abang, therefore, held that the N400 million was never released for a special national assignment based on the evidence before him.

“Therefore, I find the first and second defendants guilty on Count Four,” he ruled.

 

A Failed Defence

Justice Abang, therefore, held that the N400 million was never released for a special national assignment based on the evidence before him.

He then proceeded to give judgement on Count Seven – transfer of funds to a PDP chieftain, saying he would come back to counts 5 and 6.

On the seventh count of the charges, the trial judge held that the transfer of N27.7 million to Mr Anthony Anenih for a special national assignment directly represented the illicit nature of the fund.

“I have again considered the position of the prosecution and found that the prosecution proved the transfer of N27.7 million to Chief Anthony Anenih, and I hereby find the first and second defendants guilty on Count Seven and are hereby convicted,” he ruled.

Thereafter, Justice Abang said he has considered the arguments of the defendants on Counts Five and Six which deal with making cash transactions above the statutory threshold of N5 million for individuals and N10 million for corporate bodies.

“I agree with the prosecution that the defendants committed the offence by handing over raw cash of $2 million dollars to a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator to change same into naira.

“From the evidence placed before me, the BDC is not even a registered operator. The transaction is, therefore, undocumented and runs contrary to the Anti-Money Laundering Act.”

“I agree with the prosecution that the $2 million and part of the N400 million received from the office of the NSA was used to acquire properties in Lagos,” he added.

According to the trial judge, the transaction as regards Counts Five and Six was clearly in excess of the statutory threshold whether the money belonged to the defendants or not and Metuh failed in his defence to disclose the source of the $2 million.

“I hereby find the first and second defendants guilty on Counts Five and Six,” he held.

After taking all the counts, the court convicted and found the former PDP spokesman guilty of all seven charges levelled against him by the EFCC.

Judge Hands Off Former Interior Minister, Abba Moro’s Case

abba moroThe trial of former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro has suffered a setback as the judge handling the case has taken his hands off the matter.

At the resumed trial in Abuja, Justice Anwuli Chikere, who has been handling the case said she is returning the case file of Mr Moro to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment on personal reasons.

The former Minister of Interior is standing trial for allegedly defrauding immigration applicants of over N670 million.

In a related development, the trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olisa Metuh, was also stalled following his application to seek medical treatment.

Trial Judge, Okon Abang adjourned the corruption case against Mr Metuh to May 17 and 18 due to an oral application made by his counsel to the effect that his client came from a hospital bed to honour the court date.

Dana Crash: Absence Of Pathologist Stalls Inquest

The coroner’s inquest into the 3 June 2012 Dana Plane crash in Lagos has failed to resume on Tuesday following the absence of a consultant pathologist, John Obafunwa.

153 passengers aboard the plane and some residents of Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State, where the plane crash occurred, were killed in the incident.

The inquest had been due to resume on Tuesday following the dismissal of a suit filed against the proceedings by a group, Civil Aviation Round Table.

The suit was dismissed by Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Lagos for lacking in merit.

Mr Obafunwa, who is the Chief Medical Examiner of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja had testified on July 25,2012 on the cause of death of the victims.

He was expected to be cross-examined on his testimony and submit the autopsy reports to the court.

Following his absence, the Lagos State Coroner, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe said the proceedings could not go on.

Also to be cross-examined is Capt. Oscar Wilson, Director of Flight Operations, Dana Airlines who had also given evidence before the inquest.

Magistrate Oyetade has therefore adjourned the inquest till the 18th of Jan. 2013 to enable summons to be served on witnesses and parties expected to testify before the court.