The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has obtained a court order to detain Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s spokesperson, Olisa Metuh. The court, yesterday ordered that Metuh, who was arrested on Tuesday in respect to investigation about N1.4billion “suspicious” funds in the account of a company in which he has interests in, remains under custody.
The EFCC was said to have approached the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Wuse Zone 2 for an order to detain Metuh days after his arrest in Abuja. The commission said it decided to seek an order to remand Metuh because some of his accomplices are at large, but the commission failed to reveal the names of the said accomplices who are on the run.
The move made by EFCC counsel, Mr. C.O. Ugwu, reads:
“Your Worship, we have a remand proceeding brought by way of ex parte motion pursuant to Section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
“The application is supported by Form 8, which is the stipulated form for an application of this nature. It is of 16-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Junaid Saidu, a detective officer with EFCC.
“We place reliance on the entirety of the deposition in the said affidavit, especially paragraphs 4-15. In a nutshell, we have brought this application because the investigation involved in this case is a bit complex and there are also persons reasonably suspected to be involved in the fraud who are yet at large.
“We need the suspect in the custody so as to aid us in our investigation. So, we have come with this application to respectfully apply for an order of this Honourable Court authorising us to keep him in custody.
“By the provision of Section 296(1) of the ACJ Act, Your Worship is enjoined to grant an application of this nature for a period of 14 days.
“May I conclude my submission by referring this Honourable Court to the case of Lufadeju v. Jonhnson(2007) 8NWLR Pt 1037 at Page 535.
“This is a case where the Supreme Court held that it is constitutional to detain a suspect so as to aid investigation and to ensure that the right of the suspect is protected.
“This is because we have approached the court to justify his detention by operation of law. So, there is no way we can detain him unnecessarily since the court is in the picture.”
The counsel relied on sections 293 and 296 of the ACJ Act, the EFCC counsel to plead with the court to allow the anti-graft agency to detain Metuh. The section reads:
Section 293 says: “A suspect arrested for an offence, which a magistrate’s court has no jurisdiction to try shall, within a reasonable time of arrest, be brought before a magistrate’s court for remand.
“An application for remand under this section shall be made ex parte and shall (a) be made in the prescribed “Report and Request for Remand Form” as contained in Form 8, in the First Schedule to this Act; and (b) be verified on oath and contain reasons for the remand request.
Section 296 reads in part: (1) “Where an order of remand of the suspect is made pursuant to Section 293 of this Act, the order shall be for a period not exceeding 14 days in the first instance, and the case shall be returnable within the same period.
(2) “Where, on application in writing, good cause is shown why there should be an extension of the remand period, the court may make an order for further remand of the suspect for a period not exceeding 14 days and make the proceedings returnable within the same period…”
The Chief Magistrate,Okeagu Azubuike therefore said in his ruling that:
“This court has read carefully the affidavit in the Form 8 to support this application as well as the legal authorities submitted thereto.
“This court has therefore found merit in this application and hereby allows the applicant to detain the respondent(Olisa Metuh) in their custody from the 6th of January to 13th of January, 2016, pending the investigation.
“The Respondent(Olisa Metuh) should be given access to his lawyer, relatives and medical doctors and should be arraigned before a court of law on or before 13th of January.”
In a statement released hours after he was arrested, the party demanded the immediate release of Mr. Metuh, saying that his arrest underscores the growing political intolerance in the country and the foisting of a police state. Mr. Metuh is still at the EFCC custody.