A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, on Wednesday asked the Federal High Court, Abuja, to order the release of his passport to enable him travel overseas for medical treatment.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that this is the third time Metuh would be asking the court to release his passport to enable him to seek medical attention abroad.

At the resumed hearing, the judge, Justice Okon Abang, granted Metuh’s counsel, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN) permission to move the application.

Etiaba noted that his client did not appeal against the two previous applications, which were refused by the court; but added that this was a new and entirely different application.

“It is instructive to note that the facts now are different from the facts relied on in the previous application.

“He (Metuh) has lost sensation in his lower leg, this never happened before; so this reinforces the fact that the circumstances of this application are different.”

According to Etiaba, the exercise of discretion is always based on the material made available to the court and the ruling on the last two applications were based on material made available to the court at that time.

He said his client, by the fresh application, was presenting a new case before the court in line with the new fact that had emerged and prayed the court to consider the application.

“It is not a case where the court will be viewed as being functus officio, as the new application does not seek to re-open the previous applications, which were determined based on circumstances different from this one.”

On the claim that the court had said it would not entertain a medical report from any doctor in Nigeria with regard to Metuh’s case, Etiaba said they were relying on a letter from a neurosurgeon in the United Kingdom.

“We rely on exhibit three, which is a letter from a world renowned neurosurgeon by name Adrian Cassy and the prosecution can bring its team of medical experts to examine the first defendant.”

In the opposing argument, the prosecutor, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, prayed the court to dismiss the application on grounds that it lacked merit and was an abuse of court process.

“The latest application, being the third in the series, is an abuse of court process, as the court has refused similar applications twice.

According to Tahir, the only thing different about the latest application is the timing because the circumstance, which is the release of passport on the grounds of ill health, remains the same.

The prosecutor noted that there was also no medical report from a foreign doctor attached to the application.

Abang adjourned the matter until March 15 for continuation of arguments.

Abang had earlier refused another application seeking permission for Metuh, who appeared in court on a wheelchair, to be absent from the proceedings based on his health.

The judge had also earlier raised the question as to whether the court, as constituted, had the power to hear the application seeking the release of Metuh’s passport.

“The issues cited in the two previous rulings were the same and one of the reasons raised in that application was that Metuh was suffering from spinal cord ailment. (NAN)

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