A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, for retrial.
Delivering his ruling on Monday, Justice Emeka Nwite described the seven-count in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2022 filed by the EFCC as “an abuse of court process.”
The EFCC had filed the suit before Nwite for the retrial of Metuh (1st defendant) and his company, Destra Investments Ltd, listed as the 2nd defendant in the case.
Justice Nwite held that he aligned with the arguments of counsel for Metuh, Afam Osigwe (SAN), and his company’s lawyer, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), that while the matter was pending before the Supreme Court, it was a gross abuse of the court for the commission to have filed the same matter for retrial before him.
The matter, which was number eight on the cause list, was scheduled for Metuh who was in court to take his plea.
However, at the resumed hearing, Justice Nwite asked counsel for the EFCC, Olanrewaju Adeola about the current position of the matter.
Adeola informed that Metuh was convicted by the trial court and went to the Court of Appeal where the decision of the lower court was upturned.
“We challenged the decision of the Appeal Court. We understand that the matter was listed this morning at the instance of the defendant for the application for his international passport,” he said.
In his response, Osigwe said Metuh got information about the matter at the Federal High Court on social media.
He, however, said he had earlier discussed with the EFCC lawyer the current position of the matter, “because there is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court in suit number: SC/ CR/583/2021 between FG Vs Olisa Metuh and another.
Onwugbufor, who spoke in the same vein, said he filed a motion; a written application before the court to clear any doubt about the position of the suit.
“The application is dated September 20, 2022, and filed on September 22, 2022,” he said.
He said after the appeal by Metuh and his company at the Court of Appeal, it was decided that the judgment of the Federal High Court was a nullity and ordered a new trial.
Adeola, who represented the EFCC, however, prayed that rather than striking out the suit, the court should adjourn the matter indefinitely pending the hearing and determination of the appeal before the apex court.
“The submission of first and second defendants’ counsel is to the effect that the charge is struck out or on the alternative, be adjourned sine die.
“For the prosecution, we don’t have any problem with that, sir. But in the interest of justice, the prosecution will be more comfortable if the matter was adjourned sine die,” he said.
However, Osigwe argued that Adeola’s submission was an admission that the present charge was an abuse of the court process, urging the court to do the needful.
Delivering his ruling, the judge said after listening to the submissions of the counsel in the suit, there was no way the matter could come back to his court without resolving the issues before the Supreme Court.
“I agree with the argument of the 1st defendant concurred by the 2nd defendant that it is an abuse of the court process and I so hold,” he said.
He then struck the suit out for being an abuse of court process.