By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
After four years of trial, the Federal High Court, Abuja will on February 25, 2020, determine the culpability or otherwise of former Spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh in the N400M alleged fraud charges brought against him by the federal government.
Justice Okon Abang will on the day deliver judgment in the money laundering charges against Metuh and his company Dextra Investment Nigeria limited.
Metuh and the company were in 2015 arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), specifically on accusation of receiving the sum of N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) without any contract.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
However following the adoption of final written addressess by all parties in the suit on Tuesday, Justice Abang announced that judgment will be handed down on February 25, about four years after the commencement of trial.
In his final brief of argument, prosecution counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, urged the court to convict Metuh on the grounds that he had led credible evidence against the defenfants.
The prosecution before closing its case against the defenfants called eight witnesses and tendered several documents to support its case against Metuh and his company.
Among the documents is a Diamond Bank document which captured the details of the transactions carried out by Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited.
However the defenfants led by Abel Ozioko and Tochukwu Onwugbufo SAN, for the first and second defendants respectively, urged the court to discharge and acquit them on the grounds that the prosecution failed woefully in establishing any case against them.
In his defence, Metuh called 15 witnesses to prove his innocence in the money laundering charges.
Metuh in his evidence maintained that the sum of N400M received from former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) was for a national assignment as directed by the then president, Goodluck Jonathan.
However, during cross examination by prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, the former spokesman told the court that there was never an instance where Jonathan directly gave any money to him.
In arguing his case, Metuh’s lawyer, Ozioko, submitted that a total of 11 witnesses including a prosecution witness have testified as receiving various sums of money from Metuh both in cash and cheques as contained in exhibit G20, which has remained an unchallenged evidence.
He further submitted that the testimony of Metuh was corroborated by witnesses to the fact that former President Goodluck Jonathan gave him an assignment on security issues, which was not challenged by the prosecution.
Ozioko further urged the court to note that exhibit B E, which is the e-payment mandate with certification shows that all payments with regards to the N400M complied with the statutory requirement.
The defence lawyer further submitted that the prosecution failed to establish that the source of the money is illicit to warrant a charge of money laundering to be filed against Metuh.
He urged the court to hold that having failed to establish any case against Metuh, the only inescapable conclusion is to discharge and acquit him.
Also arguing, counsel to Dextra Investment Limited, Chief Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear matters bordering on simple contract.
He submitted that the issue of the source of money should first be determined by the court in other to establish a case of money laundering.
According to Onwugbufor, the N400m was legitimately provided and transferred to the second defendant.
He said the non calling of former President Jonathan to give evidence was fatal to the case of the prosecution, because only his evidence would have shown whether he authorised money or not.
The senior lawyer argued that throughout trial, the prosecution never responded to the origin of the money, adding that, “the failure of the prosecution to respond to this issue which is highlighted in our addresses is deemed to have accepted and admitted all the points and issues raised therein.
“Having conceded same, the court is urged to hold that the origin of the money is legitimate and if that is so, the entire charge of money laundering must fail.”
But the prosecution on his part, urged the court to convict the defendants as the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
He submitted that money laundering is a global offence and that section 15(6) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act. 2011 catalogued list of predicate offence that can give rise to money laundering including criminal breach of trust.
Tahir submitted that under the law, “there is nowhere that prosecution must prove predicate offence before money laundering offences can be proved.”
The EFCC is prosecuting Metuh alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited, on seven-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N400M (Four Hundred Million Naira), which he received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in the build up to the 2015 general elections.