A fresh application filed by former National Publicity Secretary, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, has stalled his trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Metuh is standing trial on a seven-count charge alongside his company, Destra Investments Limited, for alleged fraud.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, counsel to Metuh, Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN), asked the court to stay further proceedings on the matter pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the appeal filed challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal that affirmed the ruling of the trial court on ‘no-case-submission.’
He further told the court that the Supreme Court has fixed June 9, 2017 for ruling on the application for stay of proceedings filed by the defendant and November 3, 2017 for hearing of the appeal on ‘no-case-submission.’
Ikpeazu urged the court to determine whether the Supreme Court has the powers to grant the prayers as prayed and if so, whether the applicant has made out a case for a grant of this application.
On his part, counsel to Destra Investments Limited, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), aligned with the submissions of the first defendant, stressing that what they were asking for is not an indefinite adjournment but an adjournment to a specific date to which their application at the Supreme Court was adjourned to enable the court access the results of the proceedings at the Supreme Court.
Onwugbufor also stated that the adjournment would in no way cause a delay as parties in the case have filed their briefs and dates fixed for hearing of the matter.
He further argued that the court would be embarking on an exercise in futility if at the end of the day, the Supreme Court rules in favour of the defendant.
He, therefore, urged the court to grant the application for a stay.
But the Metuh’s application was opposed by the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, who urged the court to discountenance the arguments of the defence because proceedings in criminal trials no longer stay since ACJA came into effect.
Tahir, noting that the application was an attempt to cause delay, added that the proceedings of the Supreme Court do not affect the proceedings of the trial court.
He held that the steps being taken by the defence amounts to holding the court and the state to ransom, and urged the court to resist the attempt by refusing the application and order for trial to continue.
Justice Okon Abang, however, adjourned till May 2, 2017 for ruling on the application for stay of proceedings until the outcome of the June 9, 2017 ruling of the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, hearing of the second defendant’s application for similar matter was fixed for today.
23 March, 2017