The trial of the spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP), Olisa Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited commenced on Monday, 25th January, 2016, before Justice O.E Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja with the prosecution, EFCC, presenting two witnesses.
Metuh who is still being held in Kuje prison custody for failure to perfect his bail conditions had, before the commencement of his trial today prayed the court for bail variation through his counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN.
“We have a pending application seeking a variation on the bail conditions earlier granted the defendant. We have made honest effort to fulfill the conditions but have not been able to. The defendant being in custody would not have the opportunity to avail us the necessary documents for his defence. We urge your Lordship to give consideration to our prayer”, Ikpeazu pleaded.
“Besides, we are just served with an additional proof of evidence by the prosecution and we have not gone through it with the defendant, so I urge the court to adjourn the trial to enable the defendant get his personal documents”, he further urged.
Responding, counsel to EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, told the court that he was only served with the application few minutes before the court session started.
In his opposition to the application, Tahir told the court that, “the business of the day is to commence trial on this matter, so to hear this application will be a distraction to the court”.
He urged the court to fix a later day for the hearing on the application and ordered the trial to commence as the witnesses were already in court to testify.
Justice Abang, after listening to the arguments of both counsels, adjourned the hearing on the application to January 27, 2016 and ordered the trial to commence as scheduled.
The judge however added that, the prosecution would only be allowed to present only the witnesses whose statement and proof of evidence had earlier been served on the defence.
The first prosecution witness (PW1), Nneka Ararume, a staff of Asset Resources Managemnet, (ARM) while being led in evidence by Tahir, told the court that, she was given the sum of $2 million (two million dollars) in cash by Metuh to change through a Bureau De Change operator and was asked to pay the naira equivalent into Destra Investment Limited bank account.
Thereafter, Metuh’s counsel, Ikpeazu, SAN, prayed the court to adjourn to a later date for cross-examination to enable him get the necessary document in respect of the claim.
This application was vehemently objected to by the prosecution counsel.
In a bench ruling, Justice Abang refused the prayer of the defence, stating that there is no sufficient material before the court to oblige the defence of their request.
He ordered the defence to cross-examine the witness immediately.
Answering questions during cross-examination, Ararume maintained that, the transaction was conducted on trust and that she had no idea of how long it took the defendant to gather the said sum.
Also testifying, the second prosecution witness (PW2), Sie Iyenome, a Bureau De Change operator, told the court that, he was contacted by PW1 to buy the sum of $1million (one million dollar).
According to Iyenome, the transaction was done through Capital Field Investment and Trustees and the naira equivalent totaling N183 million (one hundred and eighty three million naira) was paid into Destra Investment Limited bank account as agreed.
Under cross-examination, the PW2 stated that the transaction was legal and that, it was carried out with due diligence.
Justice Abang, thereafter, adjourned the matter to January 26, 2015 for continuation of trial.