According to Premium Times, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has adjourned hearing into an application filed by former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic, Olisah Metuh, for the appearance of former President Goodluck Jonathan as his witness.
Mr. Metuh is facing a seven-count charge of alleged diversion of N400 million from the Office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
Explaining his reason for seeking Mr. Jonathan’s appearance, Mr. Metuh submitted that the said fund was transferred from the office of the former NSA to an account belonging to his company, Dextra Investment, on the directive of Mr. Jonathan.
Since the directive was given by the former president, according to the lawyer, he ought to be asked to appear in court.
Also, the lawyer representing Mr. Dasuki asked for the suspension of an order demanding Mr. Dasuki’s appearance in court as a defence witness in the trial.
The lawyer, Ahmed Raji, asked the court to suspend issuance of a subpoena on Mr. Dasuki until the former NSA was removed from the custody of the State Security Service.
Mr. Raji addressed the court after a lengthy deliberation when the presiding judge, Okon Abang, asked him to address the court on his application.
“On behalf of my client Dasuki, there is an application by way of a motion on notice dated October 20 and filed same day. It seeks an order to set aside or suspend the issuance and order of a subpoena to my client, pending when he is released from the custody of the State Security Service, SSS,” Mr. Raji said.
Mr. Raji also said the application to prevent Mr. Dasuki from appearing in the matter was dated October 20.
Various responses were given by counsel to Mr. Raji’s application.
The prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, said he was vehemently opposed to the application, stressing that the court in session was the wrong place to make such an application.
Counsel for the defence, Onyeachi Ikpeazu and Tochukwu Onwubufor, however said they would oppose the application in parts. They argued that it was unacceptable for the State Security Service to continue keeping in custody a man released on bail, stressing that Mr. Dasuki was expected to come to court from his residence rather than from a detention facility.
On September 29, the Appeal Court ordered the lower court to allow the appearance of Mr. Dasuki on the request of the defence counsel.
Earlier, at Monday’s court session, Mr. Metuh’s lead counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, informed the court of his client’s decision to apply for the appearance of Mr. Jonathan under another subpoena.
Responding, Mr. Abang asked if the defence had made any such application before Monday’s hearing.
“Learned senior counsel, before now, have you applied for a subpoena to compel the former President to appear in the matter? If the answer is in the affirmative, when did you apply for the subpoena?” Mr. Abang asked the lawyer.
In his response, Mr. Ikpeazu said his team had listed two witnesses they intended to bring with the use of a subpoena when compiling its witnesses.
He added that since the previous application for Mr. Dasuki’s appearance was refused by the court, the defence counsel thought it would be foolhardy to pen down another application for a subpoena before now.
Mr. Ikpeazu however said his office had written the former president but received no response, hence the need to make the recent application.
Mr. Abang then directed three questions to the prosecution, demanding whether the court was duty bound to wait for Mr. Metuh’s counsel till they were prepared to bring forward an application to that effect.
In his response, the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, said the answer to the questions posed by Mr. Abang was obvious. Saying the defence had a right to call its witnesses, Mr. Tahir urged the court to make necessary orders listing the duration of time, during which the application for the subpoena should be submitted in court.
Mr. Tahir said the reason for his take on Mr. Ikpeazu’s application was so that no blame would be apportioned to either the court or parties at the end of the day.
Mr. Abang, however, took exception to the submissions made by Mr. Tahir and asked him to face the issue before him, rather than ‘attempting to threaten the court’.
“You are distracting the court. You frightened the court with the submission,” he said.
Mr. Abang added that the prosecution’s take on the matter was to prevent any party from being blamed later.
The judge related Mr. Tahir’s comments to the effect of the September 29 Appeal Court judgement which ordered the lower court to allow Mr. Dasuki appear based on a subpoena.
Mr. Abang said his court had a right to give any decision that it feels lawfully compliant with the situation at hand.
In a further reaction to the submissions of the prosecution counsel, Mr. Ikpeazu said the constitution has given his client the right to call their witnesses and noted the need for the court to focus on the application at hand.
Mr. Abang adjourned further hearing in the matter to Tuesday.