Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman, Olisa Metuh, is now on admission at the Lagos University Hospital (LUTH), Lagos two weeks after he left the National Hospital, Abuja where he was once on bed rest.
His lawyer, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), disclosed this yesterday at the resumption of proceedings in Metuh’s trial before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Etiaba, who tendered a letter dated June 8, 2016 to support his position, said Metuh opted for LUTH after following his failure to secure the court’s nod to seek medical care abroad as was recommended by the National Hospital.
Although Justice Abang noted that the duration of his treatment was not indicated in a medical report issued by one Dr. O. O. Oyeleye, a Consultant Neurosurgeon at the National Hospital, Abuja, which Metuh submitted to support his request for adjournment, the judge adjourned to May 30.
Yesterday, Metuh was expected to resume his defence, but his lawyer told the court he was absent and was on admission in another hospital – LUTH.
He tendered the letter from LUTH to support his claim, and urged the court to adjourn proceedings to a later date.
Prosecution lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir queried the procedure adopted by Metuh, who relocated from one hospital to another without the knowledge of the court.
“If there is any case of referral for further evaluation of the 1st defendant, I would have thought that the hospital should have availed this court, out of courtesy, with a referral letter, showing the sequence of event, since the National Hospital earlier wrote this court about the admission of the 1st defendant.
“The instant letter seems to be coming from LUTH. That creates doubt in my mind as to whether the information contained in it is reliable. The letter also did not show as to when exactly the 1st defendant shall be discharged for him to return for his trial, because the letter said he is under observation and management for the next few weeks.
“The letter is dated June 8. It is curious that on the eve of the resumption of the court’s business, another letter is written.The court being human being, like us, who are all mortals, we expect a demonstration of good faith such that will not give room for doubt.We most reluctantly concede to adjournment,” Tahir said.
Responding, Etiaba denied the impression that his client was playing pranks. He explained that Metuh was actually ill and needed medical attention.
Etiaba said his client could not procure a referral note from the National Hospital management, which he said claimed that the hospital’s facility, being the best in the country could not reverse itself by referring Metuh to inferior Nigerian hospitals having earlier referred him for treatment abroad.
“The board of the National Hospital clearly took a position that it is the number one hospital in Nigeria and that they cannot reverse themselves and refer a matter, on which they had written that the 1st defendant be referred to London, to a lower hospital in Nigeria.
“So the hospital declined to issue a referral letter referring the 1st defendant to LUTH or any hospital in Nigeria. For this reason, the 1st defendant had to commenced afresh the procedure that he has been put through in the hospital.
“The fact of what the 1st defendant went through in the National Hospital, was reduced to an affidavit, but because he was restricted to the hospital, he could not approach the court to swear to it. It was that reason he approached LUTH for the letter. The letter is not from the blues, it is from LUTH.
“In all we do in this matter, we are not oblivious of the fact that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has the competence to investigate all the documents presented. We invite the EFCC to investigate the letter if it (EFCC) suspected it (the letter) is not what it says it is”, Etiaba said.
On the letter not being specific on the time, he said: “No medical personnel can be specific on medical issues. What the author did was to give an indication as to the duration, which is what I expect a knowledgeable doctor should do”.
He urged the court to grant an adjournment to cover the period highlighted in the letter to allow the 1st defendant return and continue with his defence.
A lawyer representing Metuh’s company – Destra Investment Limited, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) supported Etiabaks position and urged the court to adjourn further proceedings.
He noted that even President Muhammadu Buhari, “despite the retinue of medical experts around him, chose to travel abroad for medical attention to save the only life he has so that he can be alive to continue with state work. ”
Ruling, the judge first expressed displeasure at the way his last ruling, in which he refused Metuh’s request to travel abroad, was reported in some on-line media.
He stated that at no time did he castigate the PDP for the sorry state of health facilities in the country. And that, that was not why Metuh’s request for foreign trip was rejected.
On Etiaba’s request for adjournment, Justice Abang frowned at the failure by the National Hospital to communicate to the court the circumstances leading to Metuh’s relocation to LUTH.
He noted that the letter from LUTH also did not state the exact duration of Metuh’s treatment. He however agreed to adjourn the case and fixed July 7 for continuation of proceedings.
The ex-PDP spokesman and his company are being tried before the court for alleged unlawful receipt of N400m from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and money laundering.
They are said to have received the money for contracts not executed. They were also accused of engaging in money laundering to the tune of $2m.