Corruption trial: Metuh’s counsel apply to withdraw from case

Corruption trial: Metuh’s counsel apply to withdraw from case

- The trial of former national publicity secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh has taken a dramatic twist

- Counsel to Metuh, Onyechi Ikpeazu and Emeka Etiaba have filed a motion to withdraw from the matter

- The duo cited immense pressure with respect to their appearance in the case as well as severe threats to their lives for the decision

The trial of former national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh at the Federal High Court, Abuja, took a dramatic twist on Tuesday, March 5, as his counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu and Emeka Etiaba filed a motion to withdraw from the matter, citing “immense pressure with respect to their appearance in the case” as well as “severe threats” to their lives.

The counsel, who were not in court, had in the motion on notice, further cited the order of the court for day to day hearing of the matter, which they noted that they cannot afford, “having regard to diaries of their respective offices.”

It would be recalled that hearing on the matter could not go on on Monday, March 4 after Etiaba informed the court that he was summoned by a government agency on that same day, forcing the court to adjourn to Tuesday, March 5.

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On Tuesday, Metuh’s lawyers, were absent in court and reported to have been summoned again by the same agency, prompting the court presided over by Justice Okon Abang, to inquire from Metuh what he wants to court to do, in the circumstance.

Metuh informed the court that he had met the lawyers on Monday evening and recounted how they were traumatized by their experience in the hands of the agency of government. He prayed the court to grant an adjournment to enable his counsel to present their application.

In the application, Metuh’s lawyers stated that; “The counsel representing the 1st defendant have been going through immense pressure with respect to their appearance in this case, including severe threats to their lives and will be unable to continue to represent the 1st defendant.”

In an affidavit in support of the motion on notice, Dr. Ikpeazu averred, “I have received numerous threats to my life from diverse sources through telephone calls with disguised numbers, giving ultimatum and threatening to kill me based on the manner they claimed I had been mishandling the case.”

Ikpeazu also stated in the affidavit, that Etiaba had also informed him that “he had received similar threats and thus will no longer proceed with the representation of the 1st defendant.”

He contended that “in the circumstance, it is impossible to avail the 1st Defendant the legal representation he deserves in this case” and applied that the court grant the application to withdraw from the case in line with Section 349 (7), (8) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

The matter was adjourned to Wednesday, March 13.

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Recall that on Tuesday, November 27, Metuh pleaded with the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to order the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unfreeze his bank accounts.

Metuh, who is being prosecuted with his Destra Investments Limited over an alleged laundering of N400 million from the office of the national security adviser under the PDP government of Goodluck Jonathan, made the oral application while being led in evidence by Ikpeazu.

The former PDP spokesperson pleaded with the court to compel the EFCC to immediately unfreeze his accounts, adding that he remained innocent of the crime he was charged for.

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