An application filed by former President Goodluck Jonathan before the Federal High Court in Abuja has revealed further reasons why he wants to be excused from appearing as a witness in defence of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh.
Metuh is standing trial on charges involving, among others, the N400m he (Metuh) received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014.
The former President in his motion challenging the subpoena issued on him, stated that with “with several attempts by some persons in the current dispensation, to harass, intimidate and rubbish” his reputation and that of his wife, the witness summon issued on him upon Metuh’s request was a ploy to drag his name in the mud.
He also argued in the motion filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), on Monday, that his testimony being sought in Metuh’s trial, would not only amount to an invasion of his right to privacy, it would also expose him to a criminal charge, penalty or forfeiture.
He recalled that there had been attempts to seize the properties and bank accounts of his wife, Patience, her relatives and her pet non-governmental organisation.
These are contained in an affidavit, filed in support of the motion filed on behalf of Jonathan by Ozekhome on Monday, seeking an order to set aside the subpoena ordering him to appear in court as Metuh’s witness.
As an alternative prayer, the motion sought an order directing Metuh to deposit with the court for Jonathan, the sum of N1bn to cover travelling expenses for himself and his security personnel from his home town, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, to Abuja.
A litigation secretary in Ozekhome’s law firm, Mr. Usman Salihu, who deposed to the affidavit filed in support of the motion, said he spoke with Jonathan through a phone call in the presence of the lead counsel, Ozekhome, at about 10am on October 29 (Sunday).
Salihu stated in the affidavit that although Jonathan had not been served with the subpoena, he but had read about it in the media.
He stated that Jonathan was shocked on learning of the witness summon issued against him at Metuh’s behest.
He also denied knowing anything about the charges preferred against Metuh by the EFCC.
Salihu stated, “That he (Jonathan) has read in the media of a witness summons issued by this honourable court requiring him to come. before the court for the purpose of testifying before the court, in charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2016.
“That there have been several attempts by some persons in the current dispensation to harass, intimidate and rubbish his reputation and that of his wife.
“That several attempts have been made to attach or seize the accounts and properties of his wife, her relatives and her pet, NGO. Most of the cases filed for and against such moves are currently pending before various courts across Nigeria.
“That when he read about the summons issued on him at the behest of the 2nd respondent, Olisa Metuh, he was shocked as he verily believes strongly that it forms part of the ploy to drag his name into the mire.
“That he knows nothing pertaining to the seven counts for which Olisa Metuh, the first defendant in the charge is standing trial and consequently, has absolutely nothing to say as a witness before the court in respect thereof.
“That he verily believes that the evidence sought to be obtained from him will amount to an invasion of his personal right to privacy and family life, as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.
“That he verily believes that the evidence sought from him, is likely to expose him to a criminal charge, penalty or forfeiture.”
He further argued that the subpoena was vague and applied for and obtained on frivolous grounds.
Salihu added that the subpoena was obtained in bad faith as it was meant to embarrass the person of the applicant.
He argued that Metuh was not a personal aide or an appointee of the applicant herein and so could not have dealt with the President directly under any circumstance to warrant the invitation of the applicant to testify in the charge.
Salihu also submitted that there was no nexus between the applicant and Metuh and the charge for which Metuh was standing trial.
He also said he knew nothing about the charges preferred against Metuh.
At the Tuesday’s proceedings, Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), told Justice Okon Abang that his client’s request to call Jonathan as witness had been “misconstrued outside this court.”
He said pained by it, his client would sit with the legal team to review the motion filed by Ozekhome on behalf of Jonathan in order to take a position on it.
He said, “Efforts by the first defendant (Metuh) to avail himself of necessary evidence in his trial has been misconstrued outside this court and the first defendant feels very pained because of the dangerous insinuation that has been ascribed to his decision to call evidence that will help him to go through this phase of his life.
“May I finally submit that the first defendant will go through the application with us and take a decision on what to go with Ozekhome’s motion.”
Meanwhile, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, on Tuesday, fixed Wednesday (today) for the hearing of Jonathan’s motion.
The judge also fixed Wednesday for the hearing of a motion by Dasuki.
Dasuki’s lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), told the judge on Tuesday that his client’s motion for “an adjournment of the proceedings relating to the subpoena issued on him pending the determination of the motion filed before the Court of Appeal praying the stay execution of the said subpoena.”
But the judge said the outcome of his ruling on Dasuki’s application would determine whether or not to deliver a ruling on Jonathan’s motion.
He explained that if Dasuki’s motion succeeded, it implied that the matter would be adjourned as requested by the ex-NSA, and if it failed, the court would go ahead to deliver the ruling on Jonathan’s motion.
Although, he ordered the Department of State Services to produce in court on Wednesday, Justice Abang directed that the outcome of the ruling on the ex-NSA’s motion would determine if the detainee would testify during the proceedings.
But the judge declined an oral application by the counsel for Metuh’s co-defendant, Destra Investments Limited, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), requesting an order of arrest of the Director General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, for failing to produce Dasuki in court on Wednesday.
After hearing the lawyers’ submission in the case, Justice Abang held that it could not be established that Daura had flouted the court order directing him to produce Dasuki in court.
“I cannot come to a conclusion that the Director General of DSS has flouted the court order to produce Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.),” he ruled.
He insisted that the issue of Dasuki’s production should be handled administratively between the DSS and the EFCC.
He added, “I will give further opportunity to the DG of DSS to produce Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) in court.”
With respect to Jonathan, the judge noted that since Jonathan had yet to be personally served with the witness summon, the option left was to serve him through substituted means as provided for in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
The judge, however, said if Metuh was interested in bringing Jonathan to court, he (Metuh) who was the one who requested the ex-President “ought to know what to do.”
But Ozekhome, after he was granted permission to speak on the Dasuki issue, despite the objection of prosecuting and defence lawyers on record in the case, supported the call for Daura’s arrest, contending that the failure of the DSS to produce the ex-NSA in court on Tuesday, amounted to taking the court for a ride.
Justice Abang had on October 25, given the court bailiff five days to effect personal service of the subpoena on Jonathan and also directed the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, to persuade the management of the EFCC to liaise with the DSS to produce Dasuki in court on Tuesday (today).
At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, the court asked the prosecuting counsel about the situation of things.
In response, Tahir narrated the EFCC’s efforts in complying with the court order, directing the EFCC to liaise with the DSS.
Tahir added that he had taken further steps to speak with the Legal Adviser of the DSS.
Tahir said the DSS’ Legal Adviser informed him that Dasuki refused to be brought to court on the advice of his (Dasuki’s) counsel.
In response, Metuh’s lawyer, Etiaba, urged the court to disregard Tahir’s submission as it was not admissible because it amounted to hearsay and was not backed by any affidavit stating the facts.
But counsel representing Metuh’s firm, Destra Investments Limited and the second defendant, Chief Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), urged the court to order Daura’s arrest.
While also arguing that Tahir’s submission was inadmissible, Onwugbufor maintained that it was inconceivable that Dasuki could be more powerful than the DSS that was detaining him.
He argued that the DSS’ conduct by failing to produce Dasuki in court was an act of disrespect to the court.
Onwugbufor thereby urged the court “to apply the consequences provided by the law.”
He said, “I do not think it lies in the mouth of the DSS to say that he (Dasuki) refused to comply with the order of the court.”
He asked the court to apply the provisions of section 244 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act by ordering Lawal’s arrest.
He said, “This is more contemptuous that the DSS fails to appear before the court to explain the situations in their environment.
“My lord this is unacceptable.
“If they have an atom of respect for the court, they would appear before your lordship this morning and I refer your lordship to section 244 of ACJA.
“Your lordship has the power to issue an arrest warrant against DSS,” adding that “your lordship will now issue a warrant of arrest against the Director General of DSS in person.”
When asked if the court could order Lawal’s arrest when the name of the DSS’ DG was not specifically mentioned in the order directing that Dasuki be produced in court, Onwugbufor said, “I agree that his name is not mentioned but it has legal consequences and connotation.”