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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Metuh collected N400m for 3 vehicles, lawyer tells court

• ‘Ex-NSA allegedly paid for non-executed contracts’

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

Trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Chief Olisa Metuh, continued yesterday with the Office of the National Security Adviser [ONSA] tendering documents relating to the payment of N400 million into the account of Destra Investment Limited, owned by Metuh.

The Legal Adviser and Head of Legal Department in ONSA, Mr. Bali Ndam, who testified as Prosecution Witness Three (PW3), told the court that the said payment as reflected in the e-payment schedule mandate was for the purpose of security services.

Cross-examined by Metuh’s lead counsel, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu [SAN], Ndam said the contract was for the purchase of three operational vehicles.

Meanwhile, the court yesterday admitted into evidence, documents pertaining to the investigation into the payments of non-executed contracts awarded by the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) and other correspondences between the ONSA and the Economic and Financial Commission [EFCC].

They also include a letter from the ONSA to the Chairman of the EFCC dated November 28, 2015 and titled: “ Payment for contracts award without approval’ [Attached with the list of companies and individuals including Destra Investment Limited]; Letter from the EFCC to the ONSA requesting for e-payment mandate of the companies dated January 13, 2016 and signed by Ibrahim Musa and the ONSA reply to the request of the EFCC forwarding list of e-payment mandate no. 0799 to the EFCC dated January 14, 2016 signed by Group Capt. M. Abdulraheem.

The letter from the ONSA to the EFCC was signed by a Special Assistant [SA] to the NSA, Lt.-Col. S.A. Ibrahim.

Although, counsel to Metuh objected to the admissibility of those documents in evidence, he was overruled by Justice Okon Abang, who held that the documents were relevant to the trial.

In objecting to their admissibility, Ikpeazu argued that the documents failed the admissibility test under Section 84 of the Evidence Act as the witness was not the maker of the documents.

But responding to his objection, prosecution counsel, Mr. Slyvanus Tahir, urged the court to discountenance the objections and admit the documents in evidence.

He argued that all the documents sought to be tendered were relevant to the trial as encapsulated in Section 456 of the Evidence Act.

Tahir noted that the witness has not attempted to mislead the court in any way in his description of the letter from the ONSA to the EFCC, but rather displayed his ability to highlight the heading of the letter to the court.

He said though the witness is not the maker of the documents, he is a public servant and was acting in an official capacity on behalf of the ONSA.

Ruling on the objection, Justice Abang overruled Metuh’s counsel and admitted the documents into evidence as exhibits a, b and c respectively.

Justice Abang said: “A staff working in ONSA can tender a document or a letter issued by EFCC addressed to ONSA or a letter issued by the ONSA and addressed to the EFCC. This is so because the person is deemed to have a personal knowledge of the document rendered.

He said this is so because all these organizations are one body and all represent the prosecution and serve the same interest in the matter.

“It is my view and of course, specified in the Constitution that a document that requires payment of a specified fee as the true copy before it can be tendered as evidence before the court”.

Justice Abang said the e-payment schedule is an annexure to the letter. “It is my view that the prosecution is not seeking leave of court to tender the letters separately,”

Under cross-examination by Ikpeazu, Ndam agreed that from exhibit B, the office of the NSA also confirmed that all contracts awarded certified all due process.

Meanwhile, Justice Abang said his ruling on the application of variation of bail by Metuh will be given today (January 27) together with the trial.

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