At the resumed trial of the national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, at the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, one the defence counsels, Emeka Etiaba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), asked the court for adjournment due to the absence of the lead defence counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN).
Etiaba said that Ikpeazu was involved in another case at the supreme court, and as such would not be present to defend his client. The EFCC lawyer, Tahir Sylvanus, however opposed the request for adjournment, urging the court to proceed with the case as Etiaba was competent to hold brief in the absence of the lead counsel.
After listening to the submissions of the counsel, the judge ruled that the trial must continue. He held that since Ikpeazu, the lead counsel of the defence, had not written a letter notifying him of his absence, as required by law, the trial must continue.
Present at the court to witness the trial on Wednesday was Ifeanyi Uba, a wealthy businessman and close ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The trial of Metuh has been going on from day to day since Monday in line with the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, which specifies that there must be no adjournment in criminal cases. Once a case starts, according to the law, it has to go on from day to day till it’s concluded. In extreme cases, the judge may use his discretion to grant two weeks adjournment, but even that cannot be done more than five times during the life of the case, after which the judge doesn’t have the competence to adjourn the case anymore.
The prosecution has been calling witnesses against Metuh since Monday. Two witnesses who stated that Metuh gave two million dollars in cash to them to invest were called on the first day, while the prosecution called another witness from the Office of the National Security Adviser on Tuesday who presented damning exhibits against the PDP spokesman.
On Tuesday, Abang had stood down the trial for an hour owing to the absence of Metuh in court. He said that he is working with a time-frame to finish the case. Meanwhile, Ifeanyi Uba, an ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is in court observing the proceedings.