The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, Wednesday nullified the conviction of Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP over alleged money laundering and corruption charges.
TIMELY POST recalls that Metuh was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment by the trial court.
It also oders a fresh trial by another Judge.
But the nullification came 10 months after his jail term by a federal high court.
A three man panel of the appellate court nullified Metuh’s conviction on account of glaring bias by the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang.
Justice Stephen Adah, who delivered the judgment of the appellate court subsequently ordered a return of the case to the Federal High Court for fresh hearing by another judge.
Justice Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had in a judgment delivered on February 25, this year, found Metuh guilty of money laundering charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and subsequently sentenced him to 7 years imprisonment.
Dissatisfied, Metuh had in February approached the appellate court seeking to upturn Abang’s decision.
Metuh in the 10 grounds of appeal, submitted that the trial judge erred in law by exhibiting strong bias and also denied him of fair hearing.
He, therefore, prayed the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Abang and quash the charges against him.
Delivering judgment in the appeal, Justice Adah, noted that issue of bias is a serious issue and once it is established the decision of the trial court cannot stand.
Adah stated that findings of the panel revealed that the trial court judge displayed elements of bias during the trial of Metuh.
While observing that there were incidents of hostilities between the judge and counsel to the 1st defendant, Justice Adah, held that, “Trial must be conducted in conducive atmosphere free from rancour and element of likelihood of bias”.
“The judgment of the trial court cannot stand on account of manifestly and glaring bias”, he held.
This case is remitted to the lower court for a fresh hearing by another judge”, he added.
The court citing similar grounds of bias nullified the judgment against Metuh’s company, Dextra Investment Limited.
The appellate court also in another appeal filed by former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, accused Justice Abang of bias, by indicting someone who was not an accused in the suit.
The appellate Court noted that Dasuki was never charged along with the defendants and was also not given fair hearing.
The Appellate Court therefore ordered that all the lines in the judgment where Dasuki was indicted be expunged and nullified.
The Federal High Court in Abuja had on February 25, 2020 sentenced Olisa Metuh, to seven years imprisonment on corruption charges regarding his activities preceding the 2015 presidential election .
Justice Okon 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.
It further affirmed that the transaction violated the anti-money laundering law which pegs the maximum cash transaction an individual can undertake outside a financial institution at N5m.