The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has urged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to immediately investigate and prosecute the counsel to the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, who is currently being tried over alleged involvement in Dasukigate.
In a statement signed by CSNAC Chairman Olanrewaju Suraju, the group said that Mr. Etiaba should be tried for false information and obstruction of justice.
"In its publication of March 26, 2016, The Nation Newspaper reported that in a bid to forestall the continuation of his trial before the Federal High Court of Abuja, per Justice Okon Abang, the spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, through his counsel Mr. Etiaba (SAN), petitioned the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, against Justice Okon Abang, claiming among others that the judge was his classmate at the Law School in 1988 and that he last met the judge late last year at Le Meridien Hotel, Akwa Ibom. Metuh, who said he was worried he could not get justice before the judge, accused him (Justice Abang) of bias and of deliberately refusing to release records of proceedings to enable him appeal the judge’s earlier decisions. He therefore prayed Justice Auta to transfer the matter to another judge.
"Mr. Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited, were arraigned before Justice Abang in January on a seven-count charge, in which they were accused of retaining proceeds of unlawful acts and engaging in money laundering. The prosecution closed in February after calling eight witnesses. But, rather than open their defense, Metuh and his firm made a no-case submission."
In a ruling made on March 9, Justice Abang rejected the no-case submission on the grounds that the prosecution had established a case against Metuh and his company, requiring them being called upon to enter defense.
"Rather than open his defense, Metuh, on March 11, petitioned the court’s Chief Judge, raising sundry accusations against Justice Abang and requested the transfer of the case against him to another judge,” CSNAC said in its statement.
In response to the petition, Justice Abang stated that although he neither knew nor had any relationship with Metuh, it was impossible for the relationship Metuh claimed existed between them to affect the facts and laws in relation to Metuh’s trial.
He stated further, “With respect to the first issue that the petitioner Emeka Etiaba (SAN) stated that the first defendant in Charge FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2016 was my classmate in the Nigerian Law School, my Lord, for the records, I was at the Law School in the 1987/88 Academic Session. I am not aware that Olisa Metuh was my classmate in the Nigerian Law School. I cannot recall seeing him in the time session in my time. In law school, there were over 1,000 students and we had two sessions.
“He is not from my place, Oron, in Akwa Ibom State. I did not see him as a student in University of Calabar that I attended between September 1983 and June 1987. I have never met him in practice anywhere in the country before I was elevated to the bench in June 2009. Again, he claimed he met me in Le Meridien Uyo late last year. I was not in Le Meridien Uyo late last year. I had no function that I attended in Le Meridien Uyo late last year. I did not meet him in Le Meridien Uyo late last year.”
The judge, while responding to Mr. Metuh’s allegation that the majority of the judge’s rulings were in favor of the prosecution, stated that he was entitled to give decisions on matters placed before him for adjudication. He added that Mr. Etiaba was aware that the appropriate procedure when a party is dissatisfied with the decision of a court is to go to the appellate court instead of raising spurious allegations.
On the allegation of the non-release of the certified copies of court proceedings, Justice Abang stated that Mr. Etiaba had an improper motive in that regard. He said that as soon as the application was made, he directed his secretary to type the proceedings. When the typing was completed, he proofread the documents and released the proceedings to them on March 15, 2016. Justice Abang also noted that in addition to his petition, Metuh applied to the judge to disqualify him from further trying the case, raising similar issues as contained in the petition. The PDP spokesman has also applied to the court for an indefinite stay of proceedings pending the determination of his appeal.
"From the foregoing, it is obvious that the spurious allegations and lies fabricated against the Justice by Mr. Etiaba (SAN) on behalf of his client Mr. Metuh is a calculated attempt to obstruct the course of justice and cause unnecessary delay in the proceedings involving his client. As a senior member of the bar, who is aware of processes involved in criminal procedure, he ought to know the appropriate authorities to make his grievances, if any, known instead of churning out false information to tarnish the image of a judicial officer.
"CSNAC is therefore by this petition demanding the investigation and possibly the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Etiaba (SAN) for false information and obstruction of justice. This will go a long away in serving as a deterrent to other senior lawyers who might want to arm twist the judicial process in favor of their clients,” the petition concluded.