Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, has filed a fresh application before the Federal High Court in Abuja requesting to be allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Metuh’s earlier application to travel abroad for a medical trip was dismissed by the court in May 2016.
Justice Okon Abang on Wednesday heard Metuh’s fresh application in part and adjourned further hearing till Thursday.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission also opposed the application on the grounds that the ex-spokesperson for the PDP would abscond from his trial if allowed to embark on the foreign trip.
Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), while arguing his client’s fresh motion on Wednesday, said the defendant’s condition degenerated on January 18, 2018, prompting the need for his passport to be released to him to enable him “to proceed for the urgent life-saving surgery” in London, the United Kingdom.
Metuh was produced in court for the previous proceedings in February on a stretcher.
He wore a neck brace and sat on a wheel chair throughout the Wednesday’s proceedings.
An affidavit filed in support of the application said Metuh might die or be permanently incapacitated if the application was not granted.
“If this application fails, the applicant may die or be permanently incapacitated in which case he will be unable to defend himself in this suit,” the affidavit stated in part.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, had ordered Metuh to deposit his passport with the court’s registry as part of the bail conditions granted the ex-spokesperson for the PDP on January 19, 2016, with respect to his ongoing trial before the court.
Metuh’s earlier application seeking similar prayer for permission to travel abroad on health grounds was dismissed by the court on May 25, 2016.
He did not appeal against the court’s ruling dismissing his previous application for foreign medical trip.
But in his fresh application, Metuh stated that his health condition as of the time his previous application was filed was different from his current state.
His lawyer, Etiaba said the court had jurisdiction to hear and grant the fresh application even if the court’s previous rulings declining to release the defendant’s passports were not appealed against.
The applicant’s affidavit said before Metuh’s arrest in 2015, he had been a patient of the National Hospital and had been diagnosed with “Cervical Thoracic and Lumosacral Sypondloctic Disease.”
It also stated that his medical condition “has greatly degenerated in the past two months, hence the recommendation” of “Mr. Adrian T. H Casey, Consultant Neurological and Spinal Surgeon, at Wellington Hospital, London, United Kingdom who is the leading expert in that field of medical practice for the definitive treatment or surgery.”
But the prosecuting agency, the EFCC, said the application by Metuh was motivated by his phobia for his ongoing criminal trial, adding that the defendant would not return to the country if allowed to travel abroad.
In its counter-affidavit opposing Metuh’s application on filed on February 23, 2018, the commission said the ex-spokesperson for the PDP would not return to the country to face his trial if allowed to travel abroad.
The lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvester Tahir, also stated in his written address accompanying the counter-affidavit that Metuh had been known to be actively participating in political and social activities had suddenly developed phobia for his trial.
Tahir stated, “The complainant believes that if the applicant’s passport is released to him and he travels out of the country, he will never come back to face his trial thereby frustrating the course of justice.”
A detective with the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Musa, who deposed to the commission’s counter-affidavit, stated that the defendant’s appearance on a stretcher in court on February 5, 2018, “has since been found out to be an orchestrated drama aimed at currying the favour and sympathy of the court and public opinion.”
But one Obinna Metuh, who deposed to “a further and better affidavit” on behalf of the defendant, in response to EFCC’s counter-affidavit, denied the allegation that Metuh would abscond if granted bail.
However, the deponent admitted he attended to political and social engagements, including the PDP’s national convention on December 9, 2017 and a social function in Aba few days to the resumption of the trial, but he explained that “the facts relied on by the applicant in this application stem from the incident that occurred on January 9, 2018 and since then, the applicant has not been at any social or political gathering.”
The matter continues on Thursday for further hearing.
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