Former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Olisah Metuh collapsed and was rushed to the hospital at the weekend.
Metuh’s lawyer Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) disclosed this to a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday, January 10 while explaining why the politician was absent for the case brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ikpeazu said Metuh was admitted following complications from the spinal cord ailment for which he had earlier prayed the court to allow him leave for a scheduled surgery abroad.
He said Metuh fell when he stood up to sing at his church on Sunday, January 8 and has since been on admission at the National Hospital Abuja where he is receiving treatment.
Ikpeazu said doctors at the National Hospital were still running series of tests and examinations on Metuh and had insisted that they would only be able to issue a report later in the day after collating the results of the tests.
He therefore urged the court to adjourn the matter till the next day since the doctors had assured that the report will be ready later today.
Ikpeazu also sought the court to direct the prosecution and an officer of the court to accompany him to see Metuh at the National Hospital if it is not satisfied with his explanations.
Addressing the court, Tochukwu Onwugbufor, counsel to second defendant in the case – Destra Investments Limited (Metuh’s company) – told the court that the first defendant took ill and suddenly could not stand while attending church service on Sunday after which it was realized that his lower limbs had gone numb.
According to him, Metuh was rushed to the National Hospital where preliminary examination by doctors showed that the untreated spinal cord ailment had triggered a complication resulting in the numbness of his lower limbs.
Onwugbufor urged the court to note that the defendant is human and susceptible to the frailties of life including falling sick, and is only asking the court to grant him an adjournment to enable his doctors conclude on the tests and issue a report on him.
He argued that under the law, the defendant is entitled to such adjournments under such circumstance.
However, in his argument, prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir said the explanations by the defence counsel do not substitute for a sick certificate or a medical report from the hospital.
He urged the court to adjourn the case to the following day after which it should invoke the relevant sections of the laws to continue the case in the absence of the accused if he fails to appear in court or produce the necessary medical documents.
However, Justice Okon Abang in a bench ruling adjourned the case at the instance of the accused to Wednesday, January 11, on the ground that the same day had already been listed for continuation of trial on the case.
Metuh had been battling a spinal cord ailment for which he had severally been admitted earlier and for which he had been referred for a spinal surgery in a London hospital since last year, NAIJ.com gathered from close sources.
It was also gathered that that the facilities for the prescribed operation are not available in the country.
The court had in an, last year, earlier denied an application by the first defendant to release his travel document for treatment abroad.
Metuh was supposed to appear before presiding judge Justice Abang in cases against him and his company Destra Investment Limited for offences relating to separate transactions of N400m and $2m.
EFCC had brought seven counts charge against Metuh and Destra Investment Limited including fraud involving N400m which he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014 without any justification.
Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan has stated his side to the allegation of receiving gratification to approve the Malabu Oil transaction while he was in office.
Jonathan’s reaction came through his spokesperson, Ikechukwu Eze, about 24 hours after news hit Nigeria that he had been indicted in Italy.