A witness brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to testify against the embattled National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, yesterday told the Federal High Court in Abuja how she collected $2m cash from Metuh at his residence in Prince and Princess Estate, Abuja.
Metuh is facing criminal charges of money laundering involving N400m, which he allegedly collected from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014.
The witness, an employee of Assets and Resource Management Company Limited, ARM, Nneka Nicole Ararume, who described her position with the company as Wealth Manager, said the instruction given to her by Metuh was that the money should be invested. She explained further that she went ahead to change the money to its naira equivalent through two bureau de change operators she engaged.
She said: “Metuh gave me the sum of $2m in $100 bills. It was taken to bureau de change operators who would then transfer the money to ARM. From there (Metuh’s house) I proceeded to Mr. Sie Iyenome’s office at Wuse 2 where I gave him the sum of $1m.
“I also invited Mr. Kabir Mohammed and I also gave him the sum of $1m to transfer the naira equivalent in favour of Destra Investment Limited. Later on the same day, December 2, 2014, Mr. Kabir and Mr. Sie Iyenome confirmed the receipt.”
The prosecution also called Mr. Sie Iyenome as its second prosecution witness, who also narrated how he changed the $1m to its naira equivalent and paid it to ARM.
Both witnesses were cross-examined by the defence counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, after Justice Okon Abang, overruled his objection to adjourn the trial. Ikpeazu had earlier asked the court for an adjournment saying, the front loaded documents the prosecution presented to the court were not sufficient exhibit with which he could use for cross examination.
He urged the court to consider Section 36 of the Constitution, which he said outweigh every other consideration in the process of trial. Justice Abang, while ruling on Ikpeazu’s motion for adjournment before cross examining the witnesses, held that all the bank statements and other relevant documents had been filed and served, adding that nothing would frustrate the trial.
He said: “This court is a court of summary trial, and we are here to do justice as required; all the processes needed for the trial have been filed and served on the defendant long before now.
“I adjourn this matter for trial to commence today and nothing will frustrate the trial; if the defence counsel has no question to ask the witness, the prosecution shall proceed to call the other witnesses because there is no material before this court to justify an adjournment.”
Earlier, Ikpeazu informed the judge that since Metuh had been unable to meet the bail conditions granted him on January 16, the defence had filed an application for variation of the terms. He urged the court to adjourn the proceedings, noting that the inability of his client to meet the bail conditions had adverse effect on his preparation for the defence.
The prosecution led by Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, opposed the application for adjournment and his objection was upheld by the judge.
Trial has been adjourned till tomorrow for the prosecution to call more witnesses. It would be recalled that EFCC in the charge alleged that Metuh, who was arraigned alongside a firm, Destra Investments Ltd, received N400m, part of the money meant for the procurement of arms, from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014.
The charge further reads: “That you Olisah Metuh and Destra Investment Limited on or about the 24th day of November, 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the court took possession of N400m only paid into Destra Investment Limited account with Diamond Bank PLC, account number: 0040437573 from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser without contract award when you reasonably ought to know that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), then National Security Adviser (to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption) and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 152(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
“That you Olisah Metuh and Destra Investment Limited on or about the 24th day of November, 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the court took possession of N400m only paid into Destra Investment Limited account with Diamond Bank PLC, account number: 0040437573 from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser which you claimed to have received for political activities of the Peoples Democratic Party when you reasonably ought to know that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), then National Security Adviser (to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption) and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 152(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
Meanwhile, National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government will be open for probe after his tenure, adding that the damages done to the nation by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, needed to be probed. Oyegun also berated critics, who believed that nothing is being done by the present adminis already happening that will bring cheers to Nigerians in the next few months.
While addressing newsmen at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja yesterday, Oyegun, denied the allegation by opposition parties that the fight against corruption was being targeted at PDP members alone. He said: “We are investigating yesterday, let tomorrow investigate us.
“People tend to give the impression that we are so concentrated on corruption and nothing is happening. I tell you that a lot is happening which will bring cheers to Nigerians in the next few months.
It was 16 years of solid PDP control only. “If we want to clean out this country, if we want to save this country, we must be serious about it and wherever the train goes, there we will also go. There is no two ways about it.
All these attempts to divert attention from the reality will just not succeed. If you are caught stealing from this nation. You must account for it.
“The mere fact that a current leader has the courage to probe what happened before his time is the clearest indication that he is most unlikely to repeat the same mistake because the next leader will investigate him too. “So, we must be ready to put up with the inconvenience of getting this country out of the current level of decadence that has almost destroyed the fabric of this country.”
Oyegun also denied that APC had gone to the Presidency to beg for financial assistance. He said: “There have been talks in the media about the state of our finances.
That goes to tell you that just like the economy, the party is suffering the strain of funding. It also tells you that we are not a party that draws funds from either security votes or from any government agency.
“We have not asked for rescue from the President because that is not part of his national duties. In fact, there is no fund from which he can draw to support the party in the way it has been done in the past.
“The party had to come out with a fresh thinking on how to raise resources for its operations. That we have done, the plan is ready and it will go into operation in a few months from now.”