- The National Judicial Council has been asked to review its practice rules in tune with the health realities of persons facing trial in Nigeria
- Olisa Metuh, a former national publicity secretary for the Peoples Democratic Party said the judiciary should find ways to give prioritised attention to the medical needs of defendants
- Metuh made the appeal while recounting his medical ordeal while facing trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja
The former national publicity secretary for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, has appealed to the National Judicial Council to formulate robust practice directions that would ensure objective criteria for granting a medical dispensation to those awaiting trial or even in incarceration.
Metuh made the appeal while addressing the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Abuja Chapter, who paid him a visit at his residence in Abuja on Tuesday, February 15.
Reeling out his experience while on trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the former spokesperson for the PDP said his application for medical treatment - despite being made with evidence of medical reports including X-rays, Scan and MRIs - were repeatedly refused.
Adding that his medical reports were from several reputable university teaching hospitals in Nigeria, Metuh said that in the last 14 months, he has had several procedures and surgeries.
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A case of medicine after death for Metuh's health challenges
He said the litany of procedures he underwent was done in an attempt to correct the damage to his health arising from his inability to get the requisite treatment and advanced specialist care during his trial.
“I welcome you on your visit of solidarity to console me over the travails I have had with my health, especially this surgery which was deeper than what I thought at first.
"I was really scared because when they took me to the theatre, they discovered that my conditions had, as is often the case with the human body, been exacerbated because they could not be treated early."
He also said that all the experts that had reviewed his medical condition informed him that the delay in getting timely treatment caused fundamental damage to his physiology and overall health.
“This is all because I was denied the presumption of innocence that should have worked in my favour.
"This denial appeared to be arbitrary and without adverting to the detailed medical reports including X-rays, scans and MRIs from several reputable University Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria."
Possible intervention by Metuh's lawyer
He said that his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN, had at some point offered to use his practising certificate and licence as an additional guarantee for him (Metuh) to be granted leave for medical attention.
"I had no choice but to attend court on hospital stretchers and wheelchairs, often incapacitated and in excruciating pain.
“As a very senior lawyer myself, I honestly believe that clear and detailed practice directions on accommodation of applications for indulgence on medical grounds would have vastly reduced and probably eliminated the scope for caprice which has proved so deleterious to my health."
Quoting a litigant in America whose charges were vacated only after suffering personal adversity, Metuh said he is happy for his freedom but still wonders where he can get his health back.
“It is on this note that I am appealing to the judiciary to look at ways of giving the benefit of doubts to defendants who have medical conditions and may need urgent expert medical attention and treatment.
"For example, if in doubt, the judge may be required to order the medical doctor or the chief medical director of the hospital to appear to certify the report and verbally justify the need to grant the leave for medical treatment."
The leadership of Ohanaze Ndigbo reacts to Metuh's travails
Speaking during the visit, the president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Abuja Chapter, S.O.D Onyekwere. thanked God for saving Metuh’s life.
Onyekwere urged Metuh to remain strong and continue in good spirit in spite of his travails.
"We thank God for the strength and resilience you showed throughout and most of all your faith in God."
It would be recalled the Court of Appeal in December 2020 voided the February 25, 2020 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Okon Abang on the grounds of manifest bias by the trial judge.
Olisa Metuh asks Nigerians to help him pray for 1 very important thing in his life
Olisa Metuh, who seemed to have gone through some difficult times medically had appealed to Nigerians to pray for him.
Captured in a photo where he was seen draped in hospital clothing, bandages and anti-fatigue compression socks, the PDP stalwart who appears to have just had surgery said he is believing God that this would be his last.
He also said that although he had received some scary news from his doctors, he believes that the grace of God is sufficient for him and would make him whole again.
Metuh visits Suleja Correctional Facility, as wife calls for decongestion, speedy court processes
A former national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, on Thursday, November 25, visited the Suleja correctional facility.
Metuh was at the Suleja correctional facility alongside his wife, Kanayo, on an advocacy visit.
During the visit, Kanayo called for decongestion of Nigeria's correctional facilities and speedy court processes for inmates awaiting trial.