As we mentioned earlier, the attempt by PDP national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, to stall his money laundering trial on Friday was dismissed by Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja. Abang, a no-nonsense judge, who was recently transferred from the Lagos division of the court, ruled that Metuh’s application for him to disqualify himself from the case had no merit.
But that was not the only blow suffered by Metuh, who is standing trial alongside his company, Destra Limited, on seven counts of money laundering worth about N400m.
Metuh wanted the judge to adjourn the case indefinitely to enable him appeal the ruling at a higher court. A new lawyer representing Metuh’s firm, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) also asked the court for an adjournment because he was new to the case and needed time to study the briefs. But Justice Abang was having none of it.
The judge ordered that Metuh must begin his defence on Monday, April 11th. Justice Abang’s position is exactly what the law prescribed, and Metuh must be worried about the judge’s textbook sticking to the law.
Under the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), Metuh and his firm are only entitled to five requests for adjournment. That’s what Section 396(5) of the Act prescribes. The judge told Metuh that already he has exhausted the five opportunities available to him.
Since the prosecution closed its case, the judge recalled that the matter had been adjourned on February 4, 9, March 9, 17 and 24, all at the instance of the defendants. But the judge subsequently decided to adjourn the case “at the instance of the court” to enable him to attend to other cases on the list.