Lawmakers of the house of representatives were divided on Tuesday over a motion seeking to intervene in the ongoing trial of Olisa Metuh, former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party Party (PDP).
Metuh, who is being tried for alleged money laundering, was brought to the federal high court, Abuja, on Monday on a stretcher, after the trial judge threatened to withdraw his bail.
At the plenary on Tuesday, Chris Azubogwu, a PDP lawmaker from Anambra state, raised a motion titled the ‘Urgent need to save the life of Olisa Metuh’.
Azubogwu said the life of the former PDP spokesman is in danger following his prolonged detention in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said it is sad that Metuh had to appear in court on a stretcher on the order of the court, amid his “deteriorating” health condition.
The lawmaker alleged that courts have in the past, granted application for overseas treatment for individuals undergoing trial but has “denied” Metuh such opportunity.
He, therefore, prayed the house to urge the court to grant the politician the opportunity for overseas treatment “so as to attend to his health”.
But Emmanuel Orker-Jev, an APC lawmaker from Benue state, drew the lawmakers’ notice to order 9 rule 1 of the house.
He said the order stipulates that no decision shall be made on any matter whose judgement is pending in such a way it will give prejudice fo any party involved.
“The motion seeks to question what the court is doing. If the motion passes, what will happen?” he asked.
“If the court does not give him fair hearing, he can go to the higher court and not the national assembly. Constitutionally, we are not supposed to be deliberating on this motion. It is premature to address this issue.”
Bode Ayorinde from Olabode Ayorinde from Ondo state and also an APC lawmaker concurred with Orker-Jev. According to him, Metuh’s appearance in court on a stretcher is to “attract sympathy”.
“If a lawyer (Metuh) does not want to appear on a stretcher, he could have brought his medical certificate and showed the court,” he said.
He also argued that the matter has been adjourned “for more than a month”, so “there is nothing to appeal the court to do.”
On his part, Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house, drew the attention of the lawmakers on the principle of separation of powers.
According to him, the legislature is prohibited from infringing on the powers and functions of the judiciary, likewise the judiciary prohibited from infringing on theirs.
“The way the court treats a case is absolutely left to the jurisdiction of the court,” he said.
Dogara, however, sought the opinion of the lawmakers as to how the matter could be handled “so it doesn’t look like we are infringing on the powers of the court.”
Edward Pwajok, an APC lawmaker from Plateau state l, suggested the motion can be amended “in such a way that the prayers therein will be directed to the attorney-general of the federation (AGF)”.
“This motion is important considering the nature of issue involved. If the trial is going to continue, the man has to be alive to face trial. And we are talking about his health here.
“So we should rather direct the prayers to the AGF who is the chief prosecutor in the case,.and not the court.”
In their resolution, the lawmakers, therefore, urged Abubakar Malami, the AGF, to “look into the matter and ensure the accused is given appropriate medical treatment.”