The Supreme Court on Friday, January 12, 2018 dismissed an application by Destra Investment Limited, a company belonging to Olisa Metuh, , challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in a case of N400million fraud involving the former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Metuh is standing trial on a 7-count charge of money laundering alongside his company, over the N400million he allegedly collected from the Office of the former National Security Adviser, ONSA, in 2014 to campaign for former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The offence breaches Section 15(2), (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.
Destra Investment had through its counsel, Tochukwu Onwugbufor, SAN, challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain counts one and two of the charge.
According to Onwugbufor, “the court lacks jurisdiction to try allegations of corruption emanating from a contractual agreement”.
The application had earlier been dismissed by the Appeal Court, resulting in the further appeal to the Supreme Court.
In a well considered judgment of a five-member panel of Justices led by Justice Dattijo Mohammed, the court berated Onwugbufor for presenting the said application before the apex court, despite constitutional provisions.
The apex court also condemned the counsel’s action for insisting on his application despite constitutional provisions against his method of argument.
According to Justice Sumai Akaahs who read out the judgment, the application by Onwugbufor amounted to an attempt to frustrate the ongoing trial.
The judge held that, “Whether a person or company or person has been accused of an infraction of the law, the duty that a senior counsel owes by the privileges bestowed on him is to help the accused person or company clear their name through due legal process and not to create the impression that his duty is to erect roadblocks to frustrate justice from running its course”.
Justice Akaahs consequently dismissed the appeal which he described as “a storm in a teacup” and consequently referred it back to the trial court for continuation of trial.