By Wandoo Sombo
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday closed the defence of Olisa Metuh, former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in spite of the absence of both Metuh and his team of lawyers in court.
The judge, Justice Okon Abang, made the pronouncement in a ruling on an application by the prosecuting counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, asking the court to close Metuh’s case.
Tahir in the application, said that the court adjourned the matter for the cross- examination of the 11th defence witness, Mr Oladeji Bamidele.
He said that Bamidele had been cross- examined and discharged by the court, but no counsel from Metuh’s legal team was present to tell the court if another witness would be called.
The prosecution added that no reason was also given by the defence team for their absence in court.
Justice Abang said that the court on Jan. 25, granted Metuh’s application to call seven additional witnesses to the nine he had already called.
The judge said he had ordered that the seven witnesses, must be in court at all times to give evidence, as the court would not grant any other adjournment in the matter at the instance of the first defendant, (Metuh).
According to Abang, that order has not been appealed against, and so it subsists,“ so I wonder why neither Metuh nor any of his counsel was in court for the trial on Thursday and today with no reason.’’
The judge said that this could only mean that Metuh had abandoned his defence, adding that the absence of his counsel in court showed a lack of interest in the defence of his client.
“The first defendant is also not in court to call any of his witness to give evidence in the matter.
“The only option the court has now is to close the case of the first defendant. I rely on Section 6 (b) of the constitution to close the case of the first defendant.
“I cannot manufacture an application for adjournment for the first defendant; therefore, the case of the first defendant is now closed.”
He said that the second defendant, Destra Investments Limited, Metuh’s company shall open its defence on July 2.
Mr Kelechi Nwaiwu, counsel to Channels Television, which had been summoned by the court had earlier announced his appearance in court.
It will be recalled that the court had summoned Channels to appear and show cause why the station should not be asked to play the video recording of a programme where alleged prejudicial comments were made.
The comments were allegedly made by Mr Ben-Chuks Nwosu, a counsel in Metuh’s legal team.
Nwaiwu told the court that the station was not only represented in court but had also filed an affidavit showing cause and an unedited DVD of the programme that allegedly contained the prejudicial comments.
The judge adjourned the matter until July 2, and ordered Channels Television to be in court on July 3, with their equipment to play the DVD of the programme in the open court.
Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited are being prosecuted by the Federal Government for allegedly receiving N400 million from the former National Security Adviser, retired Col. Sambo Dasuki.