The Court of Appeal has set aside the indictments delivered against the National Security Adviser, retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, in a judgment by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja which convicted and sentenced a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, for money laundering.
A three-man panel led by Justice Stephen Adah held in a unanimous judgment delivered, on Wednesday, that the Federal High Court made damaging comments against Dasuki without giving him a fair hearing.
Justice Adah held that, Dasuki not being charged as a co-defendant in the case or given any opportunity to defend himself, the comments made against Dasuki were unwarranted.
The Appellate Court therefore ordered that all the lines in the judgment where Dasuki was indicted be expunged and nullified.
The panel had in an earlier judgment on Wednesday set aside Metuh’s conviction on the grounds of bias shown by the trial judge Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court.
The Court of Appeal also nullified the conviction of Metuh to a seven years imprisonment imposed on him by the same Justice Abang over alleged money laundering and corruption charges.
The nullification of his conviction is coming after 10 months of his jail term. The three man panel of the appellate court nullified Metuh’s conviction on account of glaring bias by the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang. Justice Stephen Adah, who delivered the judgment of the appellate court subsequently ordered a return of the case to the Federal High Court for fresh hearing by another judge.
Justice Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had in a judgment delivered on February 25, this year, found Metuh guilty of money laundering charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and subsequently sentenced him to 7 years imprisonment. Dissatisfied, Metuh had in February approached the appellate court seeking to upturn Abang’s decision.
Metuh in the 10 grounds of appeal, submitted that the trial judge erred in law by exhibiting strong bias and also denied him of fair hearing. He, therefore, prayed the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Abang and quash the charges against him.
Delivering judgment in the appeal, Justice Adah, noted that issue of bias is a serious issue and once it is established the decision of the trial court cannot stand. Adah stated that findings of the panel revealed that the trial court judge displayed elements of bias during the trial of Metuh.
While observing that there were incidents of hostilities between the judge and counsel to the 1st defendant, Justice Adah, held that “Trial must be conducted in a conducive atmosphere free from rancour and element of likelihood of bias”.
“The judgment of the trial court cannot stand on account of manifestly and glaring bias”, he held.
This case is remitted to the lower court for a fresh hearing by another judge”, he added. The court citing similar grounds of bias nullified the judgment against Metuh’s company, Dextra Investment Limited. It, therefore, ordered that the trial be conducted afresh. Justice Adah directed that the case file be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge other than Justice Abang.
Justice Abang had in his judgment delivered on February 25, 2020, sentenced Metuh to seven years’ imprisonment for fraudulently receiving N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser then being headed by Col Sambo Dasuki.