Four years after the commencement of trial bothering on money laundering, Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
The Eastern politician had been under lock-and-key from January 5, 2016 through January 19, 2016 with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. He is accused of defrauding the country of about N400m alleged to be proceeds of launder during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
EFCC had accused Metuh and his firm, Destra Investment Ltd of funds acquisition from the Office of the National Security Adviser, NSA. The $400m said to be stolen by Metuh is allegedly part of the $2.1billion ‘laundered’ by Col. Sambo Dasuki, a former NSA who had since been released.
In the case against Mr Metuh, the anti-graft body claims the laundered $2.1billion is meant for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency in the North East. The N400m parted from the sum is alleged to had been electronically wired from an account tied with the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA to Metuh, through his firm with bank details: 0040437573, Diamond Bank Plc.
Olisa Metuh had on January 19 been granted a N400m bail with his international passport confiscated. The reason for the bail term being to enable him attend to an ailing health condition. He has appeared several times at the Federal High Court in Abuja, although most of the time in a wheelchair.
The February 25, 2020 judgement found Olisa Metuh guilty of all seven charges levelled against him by the EFCC. Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, who presided over the case, found Mr Metuh guilty of count one pertaining to possession of government funds without contractual agreement. The judge delivered:
“It is my view that Metuh took possession of the N400 million from the office of the NSA without contractual agreement; he is guilty of money laundering and is hereby convicted on Count One.”
On count two, Justice Abang highlighted that the said fund was diverted for criminal purpose. According to Abang, the money was meant for security services, but Dextra Investment apparently not a registered security outfit, had access to the fund. Aside alegation of diverting N50 million of the sum to a joint account of Mr Metuh and his wife, the court found him guilty of using the funds to enhance the chances of the PDP in the 2015 polls.
“It is, therefore, manifestly clear that the defendant converted the money for PDP campaign activities and I find him guilty and is hereby convicted accordingly,” the judge said.
The judge also held that Mr Metuh was guilty of count 3 being caching the said sum of N400m, a proceed of crime received from ONSA. Justice Abang, therefore, held that the N400 million was never released for a special national assignment based on the evidence before him. On count four which was based on the illegal transaction of funds meant for security purposes,the judge pointed out how deceitful Metuh’s claim about the money being meant for special national assignment is. According to Justice Abang, the fact that former NSA, Dasuki and top officials of the PDP attended the meeting adding to enough evidences brought, Metuh’s claim were all sewed lies.
“I agree with the prosecution that Metuh’s claims are tissues of lies hurriedly put in place to divert the attention of the court from prying into the disbursement of the N400 million received from the office of the NSA through an under the table agreement.
“It is a case of public funds filtering into private hands for selfish reasons.”
On Counts Five and Six which centered on making cash transactions above the statutory threshold of N5 million for individuals and N10 million for corporate bodies, the Judge also found Metuh in the wrong.
The PDP chieftain was also found guilty of the seventh charge. Justice Abang ruled that the transfer of N27.7 million to Mr Anthony Anenih for the surreptitious ‘special national assignment’ directly exhibited the illicit nature of the fund. “I have again considered the position of the prosecution and found that the prosecution proved the transfer of N27.7 million to Chief Anthony Anenih, and I hereby find the first and second defendants guilty on Count Seven and are hereby convicted,” he ruled.
Olisa Metuh would spend his next seven years in prison, although he bagged a total 39 years prison term. For counts one to three, the court slammed seven years sentence for each. For counts four, five, six and seven, Metuh was sentenced to five, seven, three and seven years respectively.
This makes up a 39 year jail term, however, the court ordered that they be served concurrently meaning the highest jail term being seven becomes the number of years Metuh is to be imprisoned beginning February 25, 2020.
The court consequently ordered Metuh to pay a sum of N375 million to the Federal Government, with his firm ordered to pay N25m with respect to both counts 5 and 6 of the charge. It was also ordered that the firm be wrapped up with all it’s funds forfeited to the government.