A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday heard how Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) former National Publicity Secretary Chief Olisa Metuh made cash payments to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) from the N400 million the party’s chieftain is standing trial for.
It was also told how other media houses benefited from the money.
Metuh, who is facing trial alongside his firm, Destra Investment Ltd, was accused of unlawfully receiving N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) prior to the 2015 presidential election.
At the resumed trial yesterday before Justice Okon Abang, the witness told the court that other media houses that were also paid in cash to launder the image of the president were Daily Trust, Champion and Newswatch newspaper.
Prosecution witness Mr. Richard Ihediwa, who gave details of the account during cross-examination by counsel to Destra Investment Limited, Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), told the court that Metuh paid cash to one Segun Olatunji Jacobs of the Tribune newspaper but added that he could not remember some of the newspaper houses which were paid in cash.
His words: “The media campaign to launder the image of former President Goodluck Jonathan became necessary because of the agitation from North, Southsouth, Southwest and Southeast
“The issue of resource control, infrastructural development and the implementation of the recommendation from the National conference were threatening in the Southsouth.”
“In the North, there was the issue of insecurity. The agitation led to a lot of demand on the former president and he felt the best way to handle the agitation was through media publicity and public enlightenment instead of the use of the gun or force,” he said.
A motion filed by Dr. Olugbumi Usim-Wilson seeking the withdrawal of her suretyship for Metuh was also heard.
Onwugbufor, who argued the motion on behalf of the second defendant, said even though the application was made in bad fate, they would not oppose to it.
Describing the development as unfortunate, he said that no cogent reason was placed before the court on why she was withdrawing her suretyship and that the practice should not be allowed.
Counsel to the applicant, on his part, told the court that his client stood as surety voluntarily and the court should allow her to withdraw since she acted in good fate.
He prayed the court to hold that Metuh would not in any way harass or intimidate the applicant.
But counsel to Metuh, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), raised a serious objection to the last prayer.
He told the court that the submissions of the applicant’s counsel was a joke taking too far and prayed the court to hold that the application was not part of the prayers.
Ruling, Justice Abang allowed the application of the applicant and Dr. Usim-Wilson’s name was subsequently withdrawn as surety for Metuh.
Justice Abang stressed the need for parties, counsel and judges to search their conscience in all they do “because there is a Great God that we will all give account to”.
He said: “If I had taken this application for withdrawal first, it means Metuh would have gone back to Kuje prisons until he secure another surety.
“That was the reason why I took the application for replacement first in which the Deputy President Senator Ike Ekweremadu is now the new surety for Metuh.”
He further held that the applicant’s prayer to hold that Metuh should not harass or intimidate her was irrelevant since it did not form part of the prayers on the motion.
The trial continues on November 30.
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