By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, held that the trial of the embattled former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Chief Olisa Metuh, should go on in his absentia.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC, had in an application asked the court to continue Metuh’s trial in absentia, saying there was no reasonable explanation to justify his absence for continuation of trial.
Following the defendant’s felling on the ground in court on his way to the dock, Justice Okon Abang on Tuesday said that the defendant’s persistent attempt to enter the dock after the court had permitted him to remain where he was initially seated was a gross misconduct and disobedience.
He said further that Metuh went on to disturb proceedings by whimpering and groaning loudly “to give the impression that he was in pains” and made the court to look like an accident scene.
Delivering ruling on the application of the EFCC, the court held that it was entitled to proceed with the trial in Metuh’s absence.
He said that the application of the prosecution deserves to succeed due to Metuh’s previous attempts to frustrate the trial and the way he allegedly conducted himself after he fell down in court at the last sitting informed his decision to go on with the trial.
The trial judge predicated his decision on Section 266(a) and section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.”
“I do not think that further hearing of this case in the absence of 1st defendant will in any way affect his right to fair hearing under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The 1st defendant has no right to hold this court to ransom by doing things or taking steps deliberately intended to scuttle his trial.
“The 1st defendant has repeatedly made the court of law look like an accident scene. This conduct should not be allowed in the temple of justice,” he ruled.
Continuing, he said Metuh had since April 2016 when EFCC closed its case, repeatedly “erected several road blocks aimed at frustrating this trial.
“In a bid to dismantle those road blocks, the court was accused of being biased and conducting unfair trial. However, this court will stand its ground and always do what is right”, Justice Abang added.
Also yesterday, the judge ordered the General Manager of the Channels Television in Abuja and a presenter with the television, Mrs. Maupe Ogun-Yusuf, to appear before the court on May 25.
The judge said the television’s officials were being summoned in respect of the prosecution’s allegation that the prosecution seek the leave of the court to summon the television staion for what it call judicial statements allegedly made by a lawyer in Metuh’s defence team, Mr. Ben Chuks Nwosu, during the medium’s Tuesday’s edition of Sunrise Daily.
Justice Abang held that the duo should on Friday appear before him to show cause why an order should not be made to compel them to produce an unedited video recording of May 22 edition of the program where prejudicial comments were made concerning the court proceeding.
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