Justice Abang Dismisses Metuh’s Application Seeking Judge’s Disqualification
BEVERLY HILLS, April 08, (THEWILL) – Justice Okon Abang-led Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday struck out an application asking him to disqualify himself from presiding over the trial of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh, for money laundering charges.
After listening to arguments in support of the application by one of the PDP National Publicity Secretary's lawyers, Emeka Etiaba, and against it by the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, the judge dismissed the application for lacking merit.
Metuh, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly receiving N400m fraudulently from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014, filed the application asking the judge to withdraw on the ground that he had been bias in the handling of the case.
In the application, which came after the prosecution closed its case having presented eight witnesses, Metuh's counsel claimed that his client was a classmate of the judge in the 1987/1988 set of the Nigerian Law School.
However, the EFCC faulted the allegation that the trial judge exhibited bias while carrying out his function, insisting that there is no evidence by the defendant to show that Justice Abang had exhibited bias in his conduct.
The anti-graft agency's lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir argued on Friday that “There is no reason in the circumstance of this case that will make a reasonable person decide that the presiding judge has exhibited any conduct which has cast doubt on his ability to defend justice.”
Tahir urged the court to discountenance the application for lacking in merit.
In his response, Etiaba insisted that the trial judge cannot continue to preside over the case after he openly denied knowing Metuh sequel to the commencement of the matter.
“If it is established that my lord has met the defendant and he was with him when he received an award, then the judge cannot continue to preside over the matter,” Etiaba said.
But ruling on the matter on Friday, Justice Abang ruled that the allegation of bias against him was baseless, noting that the there was no evidence adduced by Metuh's lawyer in support of the application asking him to withdraw from the case.
According to him, “It is my considered view that the application lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed.”