The spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, opened his defence yesterday at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Last Friday, Justice Okon Abang threw out applications by Metuh to stall proceedings.
The judge adjourned to yesterday, warning him to open his defence, failing which he will forfeit the opportunity.
Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited, are being tried for unlawfully receiving N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and allegedly engaging in money laundering.
Yesterday, rather than commencing his defence, Tochukwu Onwugbufo (SAN), who announced appearance for Metuh’s company, began a long argument on why the court should adjourn proceedings because he was new to the case.
Justice Abang rejected his application for adjournment and ordered Metuh to open his defence by calling his witnesses.
Metuh’s lawyer Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) complied by calling his first witness, Ike Ogbonnna.
Ogbonna said he worked as a journalist with the defunct Triumph, Champion, New Telegraph (as deputy managing director) and Thisday, from where he was appointed Media adviser to ex-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo.
He gave details how Metuh was paid by former President Goodluck Jonathan for the publicity he carried out for the PDP during the run off to the general election.
Ogbonna said after a presentation by CMC Connect’s MD Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, Jonathan was pleased and urged Metuh to provide an account details for image laundering fund.
“At that point, the President told Chief Metuh that he has done a good job, but that the real job is still out there to put these into action and told him to bring a corporate account to him for mobilisation and action,” Ogbonna said.
When asked if he knew how the Office of the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, headed by Metuh, was funded, Ogonna said: “The extent that I operated as Media adviser there and as a political journalist that is familiar with political activities, I am aware that the funding of the Office of the National Publicity Secretary come mainly from the party and leader of the party, who happened to be President Goodluck Jonathan at the time,” Ogbonna said.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Ogbonna said he was not privy to the source of the money paid for the job they did, but “Chief Metuh told me that the President called him and said the money had been paid. I was not paid as an individual.’’
Further hearing resumes on April 20.