The attempt by Olisa Metuh, a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to stop his N400 million fraud trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja, came up against a brick wall on Friday as the Supreme Court dismissed his application seeking for a stay of proceedings.
Metuh is standing trial along with Destra Investment Limited for the alleged fraud. He is facing a seven-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
He had filed the application through his counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, seeking for a stay of proceedings at the High Court.
Ikpeazu had at the March 22, 2017 sitting before Justice Abang, also applied to the court to “stay proceedings”, as the Supreme Court, according to him had begun hearing the appeal.
He argued that the High Court “ought to defer to the Supreme Court”, which had fixed June 9, 2017 to rule on the application.
His application was however, vehemently opposed by prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, who had argued that it was “a ploy to waste the time of the court”.
Justice Abang had fixed May 2, 2017 to rule on Ikpeazu’s application for a “stay of proceedings” but could not deliver the ruling, noting that the ruling was not ready.
“I handle cases in Abuja, Asaba and Lagos divisions of the court and I have several other judgments and rulings to deliver,” the trial judge said.
However, in the ruling of the five-man panel of judges at the Supreme Court, made up of Justices Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, Musa Dattijo Mohammed, Kudirat Kekere-Okun, Ejembi Eko and Sidi Dauda Bage, which was read by Justice Eko, they held that Metuh’s application for a stay of proceedings, “is in the circumstances dismissed and refused”.
Metuh had on May 24, 2016 also lost at the Appeal Court, to overturn the decision of Justice Abang who had on March 9, 2016 dismissed a similar application.
Tahir, who commended the ruling, noted that “the significant aspect of the ruling is that before now, it is only at the level of the Court of Appeal that the issue of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA 2015 has been tested.”
NAN reports that Metuh’s trial will now continue on June 19, 2017 before Justice Abang.