The absence of Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday stalled the re-arraignment of former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, over alleged N400 million fraud.
The court had, on September 28, fixed Thursday for Metuh’s re-arraignment following Justice Egwuatu’s inability to sit on that day.
The case, which was on number 16 on Thursday’s cause list, however, could not proceed again due to the trial judge’s absence. He was said to be attending judges’ seminar in Lagos State.
The court, therefore, fixed February 15, 2022, for the former PDP spokesman’s retrial.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on December 16, 2020, nullified a Federal High Court judgment that convicted and sentenced Metuh to seven years imprisonment for money laundering.
In a unanimous decision, a three-man panel of justices of the appellate court held that the judgment of the trial judge, Okon Abang, delivered against Metuh on February 25, 2020, was tainted with bias.
The appellate court held that Abang had, by disparaging remarks he made in the judgment, betrayed his premeditated mindset against the defendant (Metuh) whom he accused of writing various petitions against him.
According to Justice Stephen Adah who delivered the lead verdict of the appellate court, allowing the trial court’s verdict to stand “will set a dangerous precedent.”
Consequently, it voided the conviction and sentence that was handed to Metuh and his firm, Destra Investment Limited, and remitted the case file back to the high court for a re-trial by another judge.
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