A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olisa Metuh has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, the federal capital.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, handed down the sentence in his judgement on Tuesday on seven counts of money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N400 million.
The charges were filed against Metuh and his company, Destra Investment, by the nation’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Abang sentenced Metuh after convicting him and found him guilty of all the charges brought against him by the anti-graft agency.
This is coming after a protracted trial of the former PDP spokesman which lasted about four years and witnessed a series of drama and adjournment over health-related claims.
Giving his judgement, Justice Abang sentenced Metuh to seven years imprisonment in respect to Counts One to Three.
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On Count Four, the PDP spokesman was sentenced to five years while he got seven, three and seven years for Counts Five, Six, and Seven years respectively.
He, however, held that all the sentences should run concurrently, with effect from February 25, 2020.
The trial judge also sentenced Dextra Investment to pay a fine of N25 million with respect to Counts Five and Six, while Metuh was also ordered to pay a fine of N375 million.
Justice Abang further ordered that the account of Dextra Investment should be forfeited to the Federal Government and the company be dissolved.
The Four-year trial and its hostilities
Justice Abang decried that dissipating public funds has eaten so deep into the society, requiring drastic action that would lead to national rebirth.
Relying on the facts presented before him, he said Metuh “planted thorns and cannot harvest flowers”.
“The convict had the opportunity of resolving the matter with the complainant without anybody knowing, especially when he was presented with the debit entry of the N50 million transferred to his wife.
“He should have been sober and resolved the matter in order to ensure the matter is not brought to court but instead, he became hardened and joined issues with the EFCC,” Justice Abang said.
According to him, Metuh also joined his counsels, Emeka Etiaba and Onyechi Ikpeazu, to ridicule the court by writing frivolous petitions.
“It is only God and my family that sustained me in the last four years of hostilities. The convict and a section of the media attempted to humiliate me,” the judge lamented.
He insisted that the origin of the $2 million could not be traced, stressing that Nigeria cannot continue like this.
Recounting his ordeal, Justice Abang said he could not state all the negative things said about him in the course of the trial.
He, however, noted that he has forgiven the former PDP spokesman and his counsel, Etiaba.
The trial judge advised Metuh that he should have been sober and resolve the matter amicably, especially when the case involved a family member.
“If I had the powers to exercise discretion, I would have exercised it in favour of the convict.
“Since I can’t go outside the law which stipulates between seven and 14 years imprisonment, in respect to Counts One to Three, I sentence him to 7 years imprisonment with effect from today (Tuesday).