The trial of Olisa Metuh, former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), resumed on Wednesday, December 6, after failed attempts by the embattled spokesperson to call former President Goodluck Jonathan as witness in the case of N400 million, which he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in 2014 to run an advocacy campaign for Jonathan.
The offense breaches Section 15(2), (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.
The prosecution had closed its case after calling eight witnesses and tendered documents to establish Metuh’s complicity in the alleged offense.
Having lost a no-case submission, Metuh, in a bid to prove his innocence, sought to subpoena former President Jonathan as a witness, following which the judge on October 3, 2017 signed the subpoena summoning Jonathan to appear as a defense witness in the case.
Surprisingly, the subpoena order as at the time the court sitting today, had not yet been duly served on the former president, an action which the prosecution considered as a ploy by the defense to delay trial.
Consequently, Sylvanus Tahir, counsel to the EFCC, on Monday (December 4) urged the court to set aside the witness summons issued on Jonathan and order Metuh, who had earlier called eight defense witnesses, to call his other proposed witnesses.
According to him, “the issue of former president Goodluck Jonathan, should not be used as a ploy to tie down the arms of the court; the proceedings should not be turned into a chess game of hide and seek and the court is left guessing whether there is another witness to testify other than Jonathan”.
Tahir’s application was however, objected to by Metuh’s counsel, Emeka Etiaba, SAN, and counsel for Destra Investments Limited, Tochukwu Onwugbufor, SAN, who maintained that they would only determine if Metuh would personally testify after Jonathan’s oral evidence in court.
Justice Okon Abang, while ruling on the application threatened to set aside the subpoena inviting former President Goodluck Jonathan to testify on behalf of Metuh, if it continued to constitute delay in the trial of the ex-spokesperson for the PDP.
He, however, adjourned to December 5, for the defense to present their other witnesses, if any.
Again, at the resumed hearing, trial was stalled. Etiaba told the court that the defense was unable to produce its witness in court, because of time frame given by the court.
“My client was given only 17 hours to produce further witnesses for his defence, and because of time, the defence is unable to make contact with remaining witnesses,” he said.
Justice Abang, however, frowned at the defense for misrepresenting the ruling of the court as regards granting an application by the defense to subpoena former president Jonathan.
The judge said: “The first defendant before today (December 4), had 31 days to make adequate arrangements to assemble his witnesses in court if he intends to present any other witness or witnesses in this matter. It is therefore not correct when learned senior counsel for the first defendant submitted that the court gave the first defendant only 17 hours to call his next witness. This submission is however misleading”.
The judge further adjourned to today for continuation of trial
At the resumed hearing, Adebayo Bodunrin, a staff of DAAR Communications Plc was presented to testify as the ninth defense witness, DW9.
Bodunrin, who admitted knowing Metuh stated that he had a relationship with DAAR Communications spanning two decades.
“I joined DAAR communication 21years ago as a journalist. I know Olisa Metuh in the cause of my career as a journalist. I have had interviews with him (Metuh) in his capacity as National Vice Chairman of PDP, and later as National Publicity Secretary of the party,” Bodunrin said.
He further told the court that he represented DAAR communications in seeking for commercials and jingles from Metuh's office.
He said: “I represented my company in seeking for commercials, announcements, jingles and promos from Metuh’s office. I remember vividly in 2014 towards the build-up to the 2015 general elections, Metuh invited me to his office where in a meeting with other media specialists asked whether they can handle the already prepared promos, jingles and scroll messages that will help reduce tension, promote peace and mobilize participants for effective participation in the election”.
Going further, Bodunrin told the court that meetings were held with some of Metuh's aides pertaining to airing of the materials and payment plans.
“Subsequently, I held a meeting with one Mr. Richard (one of the aides to Metuh) and we agreed on airing of the materials for promos and commercials”.
Asked if he properly previewed the materials he was given to work on, the DW9 told the court that he previewed the materials and he considered them airworthy.
He further explained that agreements were made as to how and when the materials will be aired including the payment plan.
“We agreed that the materials are going to be aired in stages and so will the payment. I insisted that we should be paid in physical cash because of the past experience of delayed payment,” Bodunrin added.
According to him, there are occasions the said Richard paid money into his account while onward payments were made into the company's account, on some occasion.
Thereafter, Justice Abang adjourned to January 22-25, 2018 for continuation of trial.