The Abuja Division of the Appeal Court has nullified the conviction of former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh.
Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court, Abuja had in February this year sentenced Metuh to seven years in imprisonment for money laundering to the sum of N400m.
However, in judgement Wednesday, a three man panel headed by Justice Stephen Adah, nullified Metuh’s conviction on the ground of bias of the trial judge, Justice Abang.
The Appeal Court ordered the case to be remitted back to the lower court for a retrial. The appellate court also ordered the case to be assigned to another judge.
In a unanimous judgements on three separate appeals filed by Metuh and the former National Security Adviser Col. Sambo Dasuki rtd, the appellate court nullified the judgment of the trial Court delivered on February 25, 2020.
Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Adah held that the trial court judge displayed elements of bias during the trial of the 1st and 2nd defendants: Olisa Metuh and his company Destra Investment Limited , therefore , “the entire proceedings was a nullity.”
He also agreed with the appellant counsel that the record of the court proceeding bears testimonies of the trial court judge bias. “Trial must be conducted in conducive atmosphere freed from rancour and element of likelihood of bias,” Justice Adah said.
Court of Appeal allowed the appeal filed by former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Dasuki who was indicted in the trial court judge judgment. The appellate court noted that Dasuki was never charged along with the defendants . The court held he was not also given fair hearing.
The appellate court therefore ordered that all the lines in the judgment where Dasuki was indicted are expunged and nullified.
The Court of Appeal held that its decision also applied to Destra Investment Limited that filed separate appeal against the judgment of the trial court on the grounds that it was bias.
Reacting to the judgment, Metuh’s lawyer, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), said that his client would have preferred a dismissal of the entire suit, adding that has spent 10 months imprisonment custody following the bias court proceedings. He said however that they are prepared for the retrial.
The court had February 25, 2020 sentenced Metuh to seven years imprisonment on corruption charges regarding his activities preceding the 2015 presidential election .
Justice Abang had in the judgment convicted Metuh on all the seven counts, including the fraudulent receipt of N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014.
The court also convicted Metuh for transacting with a cash sum of $2m without going through a financial institution. The transaction violated the anti-money laundering law which pegs the maximum cash transaction an individual undertake outside a financial institution at N5m.