FORMER Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) publicity secretary Chief Olisa Metuh currently standing trial on corruption charges in Nigeria has arrived in the UK for medical treatment on a protracted spinal cord ailment.
In 2017, Chief Metuh was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and is facing corruption charges over allegations that before the 2015 presidential elections, he received N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser without executing any contract. In February this year, has was found guilty of money laundering, having received N400m ($1.1m) from the office of the national security adviser.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja, found Chief Metuh guilty of four of the counts brought against him, saying he should have known that the money he received were the proceeds of crime. In addition, Chief Metuh was found guilty of converting the sum of N400m to fund PDP activities and for his personal use.
However, he got a reprieve on December 16 when the Federal Court of Appeal annulled his conviction on the grounds of bias. Consequently, Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Federal High Court granted him bail on December 24 and ordered the release of his international passport for a period of 45 days to travel within and outside the jurisdiction of the court.
On Wednesday, Chief Metuh left Nigeria via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on crutches, accompanied by some family members and close associates. Justice Maha had granted Chief Metuh bail in the sum of N250m and one surety, who must be a responsible citizen and owner of a landed property within Abuja, with value not less than the bail sum.
Justice Maha also ordered Chief Metuh to return his international passport to the court within three days from the date of his return. Commenting at the airport, one of his associates noted that the PDP spokesperson had gone through the most horrendous ordeal in the last five years.
He added: “Chief Metuh has passed through a lot. Only his faith in the almighty God kept him so strong. We thank God for this opportunity for him to get his medical treatment and move on with his life and we are deeply encouraged by the prayers and well wishes of most Nigerians in this travail.”
In annulling Chief Metuh’s conviction, the court of appeal, in a unanimous verdict held that Justice Abang showed manifest bias in the trial. According to Justice Adah, the learned trial judge showed in his comments, the influence of an abnormal desire and inclination to pursue a predetermined line of action against the appellant.
According to the appeal court, Chief Metuh’s trial was conducted in a hostile atmosphere without any regard to the constitutional rights of the person accused and as such cannot be upheld. It pointed out that the trial judge unfortunately has shown the whole world that much was into that judgment than what was put in evidence before the court.