Alleged N400m fraud: Metuh to know fate Feb. 25

The Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed Feb. 25 to deliver judgment in the N400 million fraud charge against former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Olisa Metuh.

Justice Okon Abang fixed the date on Tuesday after listening to the final written addresses by counsel in the matter.

Metuh’s Defence counsel, Mr Abel Oziokor submitted that one of the offences Metuh was standing trial for was collecting money for a contract and not executing same.

He, however, said that a prosecution witness, PW3, during his testimony, had told the court that he investigated Federal Government contracts awarded during the period but did not find Metuh’s name as a beneficiary of any contract.

Oziokor also told the court that it was established that the office of the National Security Adviser disbursed the money for security services.

He also said that Metuh used the money for the exact purpose and due process was followed to the letter.

The counsel further argued that the prosecution failed to establish a predicate offence upon which the money laundering charge against Metuh could be sustained.

“The knowledge of a predicate offence and source of the money being illicit in nature need to be established, all parties are at a consensus on this piece of law.

“What the law says is, is what has to be. The prosecution can only take what is in his bond and that is the ingredient of the offences charged.

“Since that is absent in all the evidence before the court, the inescapable consequence is the discharge and acquittal of the first defendant, (Metuh), “ he said.

According to the counsel, the duty of the court is to see to it that nothing more lenient or more severe than the case itself warrants, is done.

He urged the court to enter a not guilty verdict and discharge and acquit his client.

Mr Tochukwu Onwubufor, (SAN) counsel to Metuh’s company, the second defendant in the charge, noted that the concept of  money laundering depended on the illegitimacy of the source or origin of the money.

“For money laundering to be established, it must be shown that the origin of that money is illicit and that is why it is being laundered to make it look like a genuine transaction.

“We have shown that the money was legitimately transferred to the second defendant.

“One point we canvassed to show the legitimacy was by not calling former president Goodluck Jonathan to give evidence because only his evidence could have shown whether he authorised the money or not,“ he said.

Onwubufor queried the choice of the prosecution in citing a United Kingdom case, saying rather than rely on Nigerian laws; the prosecution relied on United Kingdom laws.

The counsel also said that no court in Nigeria had ever convicted anyone of money laundering because it was almost impossible to prove.

He said the N400 million was used for the security purposes it was approved for and urged the court to discharge and acquit the defendants.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, told the court that his team cited the United Kingdom case because the Supreme Court in one of its rulings, held that money laundering was a global crime.

On the issue of establishing a predicate offence, Tahir said that the Money Laundering Act 2011 did not make it obligatory that a predicate offence must be proved before the money laundering charge could be sustained.

Tahir maintained that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and urged the court to return a verdict of guilty as charged and convict the defendants.

Justice Abang, after listening to the final written addresses by counsel in the matter, fixed Feb. 25 for judgment.

News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) recalls that Metuh was arraigned in 2015 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) for alleged money laundering.

He was accused of allegedly receiving  N400 million from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, earmarked for the purchase of arms at the heat of the Boko Haram insurgency.

He was also accused of transacting, with cash, $2 million without going through a final institution, in violation of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

Metuh called 15 witnesses in his defence of the seven-count charge while the prosecution called eight witnesses.

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