Ex-Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, told a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday that former President Goodluck Jonathan gave N400million in respect of which he is now being prosecuted.
Metuh, who is testifying as a defence witness in his trial, argued that, as against the prosecution’s claim, he believed the money came from Jonathan for the publicity activities he carried out for the Federal Government just before the last general elections.
The former spokesman of the PDP and a company linked to him – Destra Investment Limited – are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on a seven-count charge of money laundering.
They are accused of fraudulently receiving the N400m “when they reasonably ought to know” that the money was part of the proceeds of alleged criminal act of the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki.
Metuh is equally charged with engaging in cash transaction to the volume of $2m without going through a financial institution, an act the prosecution claimed violated the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
On Tuesday, Metuh, who was led in evidence by his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), gave a rundown on his activities prior to the 2015 general elections.
Metuh said he engaged a media consultant, Yomi Badejo, with who he made a presentation at the Presidential Villa, before then President Jonathan and some others, on a media project intended at boosting the image of the government in relation to the fight against insurgency.
The ex-PDP spokesman, who claimed Jonathan was impressed with his proposal, said the former President called him on phone and requested for what the cost of the project was which he provided.
He said Jonathan later called him to inform him that his account had been credited with N400m.
When asked by Etiaba if he bothered to investigate the source of the money, Metuh, said, “How can I make an inquiry into the source of the money when I already knew the source of the money?
“I know the money came from the President as the leader of the party and on assurance that funds were raised personally by him at that time.
“It is normal for the leader of the party or a candidate in an election to send money directly as contributions were mostly made directly to him by friends.
“The leader of the party informed me that he had made a payment of N400m into my account,” Metuh said.
On whether he got an alert or statement of account disclosing the source of the money, Metuh said he only saw the statement of his account after the N400m transaction, on January 5, 2016, while he was in the detention of the EFCC.
Metuh added before the payment of the money in his account, he had not received any alert about the transaction from his bank, but that when Jonathan called him about the payment, he immediately called his account officer for confirmation of the payment.
Trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, adjourned till March 4 for continuation of Metuh’s testimony, but said trial would not be day-to-day from then on.
Before adjourning, the judge directed the lead prosecution lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, to report back to the court on March 4 the status of the appeals filed against his earlier ruling by three employees of Channels Television.
Justice Abang had, late last year, gave a ruling, directing the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to arraign the journalists for allegedly making contemptuous comments about the Metuh trial on the television’s Sunrise Daily programme.
The judge equally directed the EFCC to report, to the Disciplinary Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), a lawyer in Metuh’s legal team, Ben Nwosu, for allegedly conducting himself in an unethical manner while he feature in the programme on Channels TV.
Also on Tuesday, Justice Abang fixed March 4 for a company charged with the later ex-Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh – Iyalikam Nigeria Limited – to open its defence.
Badeh and Iyalikam were being tried on a 10-count charge of money laundering, in which the were accused fraudulent removal of about N3.97billion from the Nigerian Air Force’s account, before he (Badeh) died on December 18, 2018.
The prosecution had closed its case, with Bedeh scheduled to open his defence on January 16 this year, only for him to be murdered before the set date.
When parties got to court January 16 Badeh’s lawyer, Akin Olujinmi (SAN) informed the court about his client’s death and sought an adjournment to a date after his burial.
Olujinmi added that the adjournment will afford parties the opportunity to work out an agreement on how to proceed with the case in the absence of the first defendant (Badeh).
When the case came up on Tuesday, Olujinmi sought a meeting between parties in the case in the judge’s chambers, a request Justice Abang granted and stood down proceedings for a while.
At the resumption of proceedings about 30 minutes later, lawyer to Iyalikam Samuel Zibiri (SAN), said in view of the demise of the first defendant, the second defendant should be allowed to open its defence.
Zibiri said: “The case is for defence. As the first defendant is now in the extinct, it falls on the second defendant to open its defence.”
He later sought an adjournment to allow the second defendant open its defence, a request the judge granted and adjourned to March 4.