By Wandoo Sombo
Mr Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), accused of diverting N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki. has engaged a new lawyer, Mr Abel Oziokor to continue his case at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Metuh appointed Oziokor after he debriefed his former counsel, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and Mr Emeka Etiaba, (SAN) who had been in charge of the case since 2015, when the trial started.
Oziokor, however, applied for a short adjournment to enable him familiarise himself with the case in order to properly defend his client.
Since the request for adjournment was not opposed by the prosecution, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, adjourned the matter until March 28 for continuation of the trial.
He, however, warned that the court would not entertain frivolous applications from the counsel.
At the last adjourned date, Ikpeazu and Etiaba informed the court of an application they filed seeking leave of the court to withdraw from the matter.
They cited what they described as, immense pressure with respect to their appearance in the case as well as severe threats to their lives as reasons for wanting to withdraw.
Justice Abang had then adjourned the matter for hearing of Ikpeazu and Etiaba’s motion to withdraw from the suit.
However, when the matter was called on Wednesday, rather than hear the motion for withdrawal, the court’s attention was drawn to a letter by Metuh debriefing Ikpeazu and Etiaba.
Justice Abang wondered why Metuh would debrief his former counsel only few days after the counsel applied to withdraw from the case.
He, however, held that there was nothing the court could do other than to respect the decision of the defendant.
“The court cannot question his decision or carry out an investigation to know why he is disengaging his client, it is his fundamental right”, the judge said.
According to the judge, Ikpeazu haven been debriefed could not be compelled to continue as counsel to Metuh and he is hereby discharged as counsel to the 1st defendant in this case.
He accordingly dismissed the application of Ikpeazu seeking withdrawal from the case on the grounds that the application had been over taken by events.
Metuh and his company, Dextra Investment Ltd., are being prosecuted by the Federal Government over alleged money laundering and illegal receipt of N400 million from the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).