A former Peoples Democratic Party’s spokesperson, Chief Olisa Metuh, has appealed against the May 23, 2018 ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja directing his trial on money laundering charges to proceed in his absence.
In his notice of appeal sighted by our correspondent on Saturday, Metuh also asked the Court of Appeal to order the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, to withdraw his trial from the current trial judge, Justice Okon Abang and re-assign it to another judge of the court.
He alleged that Justice Abang in the trial-in-absentia ruling, “misdirected himself and erred in law.”
Metuh in his seven grounds notice of appeal, therefore prayed that “The Court of Appeal is urged to allow the appeal and set aside the ruling/order of the Federal High Court (Coram Justice Abang) delivered/made on May 23, 2018”
He is therefore seeking that “the 1st defendant (Metuh) shall continue to be present throughout his trial in accordance with section 266(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
He also accused the judge of bias as the basis for praying that “The Court of Appeal is further urged to remit the whole case/trial to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court with an order directing him to assign or transfer the charge to another judge of the Federal High Court.”
Should the Court of Appeal grant Metuh’s request for the re-assignment of the case, the over two years trial with eight prosecution witnesses and 11 defence witnesses, would have to start afresh before a new judge.
It was learnt on Saturday that Metuh had filed before Justice Abang an application seeking the court’s leave to appeal, a request that needs to be granted for the validation of the notice of appeal filed at the Court of Appeal.
It was learnt that following the development, Justice Abang had to cut short the adjournment of the trial till July 2.
The judge was said to have now fixed June 13 for the hearing of the motion filed by Metuh.