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Metuh brought to court on stretcher

Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Olisa Metuh was brought to court yesterday on a stretcher in compliance with an order of a Federal High Court, Abuja that he must attend court or have his bail revoked.

Justice Okon Abang, in a ruling on January 25, rejected a medical report tendered by Metuh’s lawyers, claiming he was on admission in a hospital.

Instead, the judge ordered Metuh to attend court yesterday or have the bail earlier granted him revoked.

In compliance with that order, his lawyer ensured he was brought to court early yesterday in a white ambulance, belonging to the National Hospital, Abuja.

He was later taken into the courtroom on a stretcher, with the assistance of some medical personnel, friends and relations.

He was covered with a white cloth, with an opening only in his head area, possibly to allow him breathe. He had bandage on his legs and neck area.

Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited, are being tried on allegations of corruption and money laundering.

When proceedings opened, Metuh’s lawyer Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) told the court that his client was in court in obedience to the court’s order, but was not in a good state to stand trial.

He sought a month’s adjournment within which he said Metuh would have been fit enough to stand trial.

Lawyer to Destra Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) agreed with Ikpeazu’s position.

Lead prosecution lawyer Sylvanus Tahir said he appreciated the first defendant’s (Metuh’s) health condition, having seen the manner he was brought to court.

Tahir said he was not opposed to the defence’s request for adjournment for a month.

He noted that none of the papers tendered by the defence suggested the length of time that the first defendant will be hospitalised, but added: “We leave the decision about the time to the discretion of the court.

“May I disabuse the mind of everybody (the court, the gallery and the defence team) that we are prosecutors, not persecutors. And in doing that, we have no ill-will or ill-feeling against anybody,” Tahir said.

Ikpeazu appreciated Tahir for his understanding. And, as regard when his client will be fit for trial, he said the doctors were not categorical.

He said: “We believe that within the one month that we have asked, and we pray extensively to that effect, that the first defendant should be fit to continue with his trial.

“That period is a reasonable period for the medical doctors to enter a proper evaluation and assessment of the state of health of the first defendant. We fervently hope and pray that he will be fit to continue with this trial,” Ikpeazu said.

Justice Abang , in his ruling, said he was mindful of granting the adjournment sought by Metuh’s lawyer in view of his state of health and since the prosecution did not oppose the request for adjournment.

The judge added: “A court of law must be firm in its decision. A court of law must be fair to parties in a matter placed before it. And, when occasion demands, a court of law must also be humane.

“I have seen the condition that the first defendant is in the courtroom. On the account of the condition in which I have seen the first defendant in the courtroom, I am inclined to exercise my discretion in his favour in adjourning this matter, at his instance, to enable him receive medical treatment.”

Justice Abang adjourned to March 14 for possible continuation of trial in the case.

At the conclusion of proceedings around 10.15am, Metuh was again moved out of the courtroom, still on the stretcher, into the ambulance stationed close to the court’s main entrance.



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