By Oji Odu
Olisa Metuh, former Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party ( PDP) may one day die in court. His falls and collapses are increasing by the day whenever he presents himself for defense in the graft case against him.
Monday Morning, May 21, 2018, recorded yet another of such collapse in the court. The incident happened just as he was making his way to the dock for his resumed trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Metuh, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the N400m he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014, fell down shortly after the case was called and fainted. The incident happened about 9:01 am in the courtroom.
The presiding judge, Okon Abang, had to stand down the matter to enable the former PDP spokesman receive medical attention.
Why is the fall on the increase? Why is he being denied treatment outside the country bearing in mind the poverty of the nations health system while some others are allowed such privilege? What are both the judiciary and government afraid of if he is allowed to seek medical treatment outside Nigeria?
God forbid, if he gives up the ghost in any of subsequent fall, what will be the explanation of the EFCC, government and whatever interested parties to his family and Nigerians?
Embattled Metuh who is said to be suffering from spinal cord illness had accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government of preventing his doctors from attending to his failing health.
In a statement, he alleged that besides intimidating Nigerian doctors attending to his health, members of the ruling party had also taken the campaign against him to a United Kingdom hospital to which a letter was addressed depicting him as an enemy of Nigeria. This has led to the rejection of his application to travel outside the country for medical treatment.
Metuh had on last Wednesday, arrived for continuation of his trial before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, in a wheelchair.
At the resumed proceeding of the continuation of his trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, the former PDP scribe through his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, SAN, applied to be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom for medical treatment.
In a statement on Tuesday, Metuh lamented the continued denial of his passport for medical attention abroad and the corresponding liberty given to others facing similar charges to undertake pilgrimages and other ventures abroad.
The statement issued on his behalf by Bar. Benchuks Nwosu, the former PDP spokesman, alleged that it was now clear that his case had turned into a media trial for offences committed in the defence of his party.
“We have instances and evidence of these APC controlled agents and agencies directly interfering with the various hospitals that have admitted Chief Metuh in the last two months, but the latest is the letter written by APC to the Wellington Hospital, London, U.K, depicting our client as an enemy of the Nigerian state and one that should not even access to medical treatment abroad.
“The clear fact, as evidenced by his MRI report, is that Chief Olisa Metuh has severe spondylosis with disc herniations, cord and nerve root compressions in his Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbosacral spine. This has resulted in semi-paralysis and we have even gone further in open Court to request that the prosecution be allowed to conduct their own independent clinical examination of the person involved.
“Our Client has not left the confines of a hospital or his own bedroom for the past two months except to attend Court proceedings. He spent several hours in Court on the 14th of March, 2018 and had to be taken straight to hospital to be sedated with pentadine injection and other strong pain killers. In order to be present in Court on subsequent days (15th and 16th of March 2018) he also had to take the strong pain killer injections early morning before the sittings. This however, resulted in our Client being semi-drowsy on the 15th and 16th and was clearly unable to even observe or follow the proceedings in open Court.
“In any case, are these people not aware that it is only in Chief Olisa Metuh’s matter that the issue of release of passport for an accused person has been such an impossibility?”
He regretted that recently, a Court released the passport of an accused person being prosecuted by the same EFCC to enable him attend a conference abroad, while others have been allowed to go for medical check- up abroad and even for pilgrimage.
“We believe strongly that these media trials are geared towards convincing the public that a man whose charge is that he “reasonably ought to have known” that the money given to him was part of an unlawful activity of another individual who has not even been questioned, investigated or charged is already guilty and convicted even before he has given his evidence in the matter.
“Our Client, Chief Olisa Metuh has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been making his case on his innocence. He has applied the highest level of comportment in showing his respect for our legal system. His only worry remains his plea to be allowed to have a definitive treatment of his worsening ailment. He has suffered humiliation and pain simply by being obedient to court orders.
“The fight against corruption does not imply persecution, manifest wickedness and lynch mob approach to particular individuals,” he added.
The Magazine learnt that even after appeal by the House of Representatives for Metu to be allowed foreign medical treatment, both the judiciary and interested parties have refused. What are their fears? Is Metu still a power to be reckoned with politically?
In a chat with Samson Adekunle, a political analyst: “ Those he stepped on their toes as former PDP Publicity Secretary are fighting back. They are hell bent on finishing him up that he may have lost all political relevance after they left him. We pray they don’t over do it so that he will not die one day in court.”