Justice Okon Abang of the, Federal High Court in Abuja said on Monday that he had the power to set aside the subpoena inviting former President Goodluck Jonathan to testify on behalf of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, if it continued to constitute delay in the trial of the ex-spokesperson for the PDP.
The judge, ruling on the submission by Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), said the claim that the defence would determine their next line of defence only after Jonathan testified in the case, was unknown to the law.
The judge said, “The submission of first defendant’s counsel, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), that the evidence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in court will determine whether the first defendant (Metuh) will be called to testify is unknown to law. I so hold. The submission, in my respectful view, was not made in good faith. I so hold. This submission is in contravention of the Practice Direction of this court.
“Whether a party will call a witness or not, that cannot be predicated on the evidence of a witness yet to be called.
“Criminal trial is not a game of hide-and-seek. Criminal trial is not a battle where the contending parties will apply tricks to undo one another.
“It is not a game where a party will take the other by surprise. Therefore, I take it that the first defendant still has somebody to call as a witness other than Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to testify or testify in person. That is what I deduced from the submission.
“Therefore, in the overall interest of justice, and I hope that the first defendant will take advantage of this, though the court cannot compel him to give evidence in the matter, give the bailiff time to make an attempt to serve the subpoenaed witness by personal service and this will be for the last time. Therefore, this matter is adjourned till December 5 and 6, 2017, as previously stated to enable the first defendant to call any other witness other than the subpoenaed witness or testify in person. God willing on December 6, 2017, this matter will be adjourned to enable the bailiff, being the agent of the defendant, to make another attempt to personally serve the subpoenaed witness. I so hold.”
Following an application by Metuh, the judge had since October 3, 2017 signed the subpoena summoning Jonathan to appear as a defence witness in the case.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged in some of the seven counts preferred against Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, that the ex-PDP spokesperson fraudulently received the sum of N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser without any justification and spent the funds on the party and personal affairs.
The EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, on Monday urged the court to set aside the witness summons issued on Jonathan and order Metuh, who had earlier called eight defence witness, to call his other proposed witnesses.
But both Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), and counsel for Destra Investments Limited, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), urged the court to dismiss Tahir’s application.
They also maintained that they would only determine if Metuh would personally testify after Jonathan’s oral evidence in court.
They also argued that the court lacked the power to set aside the subpoena.
But ruling on Monday, Justice Abang held that the court was empowered to set aside the subpoena as it was being used by the defence to cause a delay in the trial.
The matter continues on Tuesday (today).