By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The trial of Olisa Metuh, a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, continued on March 22, 2017 with his counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, moving a motion seeking for what was tantamount to a stay of proceedings pending the ruling of the Supreme Court on his “no-case submission” appeal.
Metuh, who is standing trial along with Destra Investment Limited for an alleged N400 million fraud, filed an application through his counsel at the Supreme Court, appealing the judgement of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja. The trial judge ruled that he had a case to answer in the seven-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
At today’s sitting, Ikpeazu told the court that the Supreme Court had started hearing the appeal and would deliver its ruling on June 9, 2017.
“It is my submission that since the Supreme Court has already started hearing the appeal, the lower court could not share jurisdiction on the same matter,” he said.
He further argued that his “simple application”, relied on Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution.
While arguing that his application was not “for stay of proceedings or to adjourn the matter sine die”, he averred that he only wanted the court to decide whether the High Court ought not to defer to the Supreme Court which has already started hearing the matter.
Ikpeazu therefore urged the court to exercise its discretion on the matter “judicially and judiciously in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.”
In his own argument, Tochukwu Onwugbufo, SAN, counsel to Destra Investment Limited, averred that the application was in the interest of fair hearing.
“The application is not asking for indefinite adjournment, but an adjournment to a specific date occasioned by the decision of the Supreme Court,” he added.
Prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, however strongly opposed the application, arguing that it was “a ploy to waste the time of the court”.
“We vehemently oppose this application, praying for an order to adjourn further proceedings to await the ruling of the application in the Supreme Court which will come in the distant future,” Tahir said.
He further argued that “the application has no accommodation in law, since it was amorphous”, and so was merely an attempt by the defence to draw the case back, adding that “the sum total of the antecedents of the defence in the matter amounted to holding the court to ransom which the court must resist”.
Tahir therefore, urged the court to “render the application incompetent and continue with the trial”.
Justice Abang, after listening to the arguments, fixed May 2, 2017 for ruling on the application.
He thereafter adjourned Metuh’s trial to March 23, 2017 for continuation of trial.