Embattled former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief OlisaMetuh, who is standing trial over alleged involvement in N400m fraud, caused a stir on Monday when he appeared before Justice OkonAbang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on a stretcher.
The defendant was brought to the court premises in an ambulance belonging to the National Hospital Abuja with registration number Q4420FG. He was carried like a log of wood in a stretcher into the courtroom at the 1st floor of the seven- storey building.
During the proceedings, Metuh laid in the stretcher, looking lifeless from afar. The defendant, an erstwhile PDP spokesperson was compelled to be in court by Justice Abang who on January 25, 2018 ordered Metuh to be in court or be sent to prison.
The court order was sequel to Metuh’s failure to attend to his trial in three consecutive sittings. He had cited ill health, stating that he is on admission at the Teaching Hospital Enugu.
But the court found his excuse unconvincing as the medical report was smuggled into the court file without the knowledge of the lead defence lawyer.
In refusing the adjournment sought, Justice Abang categorically stated that he would henceforth not accept any other medical report issued by any Medical Doctor in Nigeria until the trial of Metuh is concluded.
But at a resumed sitting of the matter on Monday, it was clear that the health condition of Metuh was bad, thus compelling the judge to exercise restraint on compassionate ground.
Ruling after the prosecuting lawyer, SylvanusTahir, and Metuh’s lawyer, OnyechiIkpeazu (SAN), had addressed the court; Justice Abang held that the court would grant an adjournment.
Justice Abang also accepted the plea of Ikpeazu that the trial be adjourned for one month.
“The 1st defendant is in court, but his counsel informed court that he is indisposed to continue trial, and therefore pleaded for one month adjournment.
The court also noted that the prosecuting lawyer did not oppose the oral application of Ikpeazu that the matter be adjourned to a period of one month.
The judge said, “I have considered the application of counsel to the 1st defendant, and the response of the prosecution counsel.
“I must say that the court of law must be firm, and fair to all parties Court of law must also be humane.
“On account of condition of Metuh (1st defendant) that I have seen this morning in courtroom, I am inclined to grant an adjournment to enable the 1st defendant attend to his medical needs.
“Consequently, this trial, God’s willing, has been adjourned to 14, 15, and 16 March 2018 for continuation of trial.
Earlier, Tahir had told the court to use its discretion to grant an adjournment, while appealing for understanding from the defence lawyers.
He said, “May I disabuse the mind of the court, the gallery and counsel for defence that we are prosecutors and not persecutors.
“We are doing our job and in doing that; we have no ill feelings about anybody.”