On Tuesday 12th January, 2015, the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Olisa Metuh, tore up a statement he voluntarily made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) regarding his alleged involvement in the $2.1 billion arms fraud. Metuh’s case has been under investigation by the anti-graft agency of Nigeria, but he surprised the public when he exhibited the unexpected act of destruction. Just after the statement was presented to him by the investigating officer for endorsement as part of preparations for his prosecution, the Lawyer, Politician and National Publicity Secretary of PDP, seized and tore the document into pieces, instead of signing it.
As though that was not enough, Metuh tried to stuff the papers into his mouth in a bid to swallow them before some operatives stopped him and managed to recovere the torn pieces from him. A source from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the attempt by Mr. Metuh to destroy a major evidence in the case against him was an offence which could attract a separate charge in court.
“The tearing of statement is tantamount to willful destruction of government property and it is a serious offence. The fact that he obstructed operatives from performing their jobs is also a criminal offence. We will explore the possibility of filling a separate charge against him at the Federal Capital Territory High Court.
Prior to the perpetuation of this hideous act, the EFCC had accused Mr. Metuh of receiving N400 million from a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, who is being prosecuted for allegedly mismanaging $2.1billion meant for procurement of arms.
Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, in his interview with some journalists, said Mr. Metuh was demonstrating reluctance to refund the money even after admitting receiving it from Mr. Dasuki.
“From the records, Metuh got over N400 million, he has not said anything because we need the public money to be returned so that it’s going to be used for public good.
Also Jafaru Isa, what Dasuki gave him was N170 million. He also agreed…of course he has collected that money, he was with us for 4-5 days and then he made a deposit of N100 million and entered an undertaking to bring the rest. That does not mean we will not prosecute him.
But this other Metuh, instead of going for a refund, he has admitted he collected money…. so instead of… he still has the money because the money is too much. Instead of returning the money, he preferred to go on hunger strike.”
Meanwhile, Metuh has been in the custody of the Commission for allegedly receiving N400 million through a company he has interest in and receiving some monthly allocation from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The Anambra state born Law graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, knows better the consequence of his act and needs not be told about what awaits him.
Apparently, he was hungry from the malnutrition of the detention and the hunger strike had caused his creative paper-chewing stunt. Metuh must have realized the weight of his confession early enough, so he skimmed an easy way out, which unfortunately, may not have been the wisest thing to do at the moment.
Prior to this event, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus in the House of Representatives had given a 48-hour ultimatum to the EFCC to charge Metuh to court or release him from detention. The PDP lawmakers also condemned the continued detention of Metuh, adding that much as they would not endorse corruption, there was however the need to ensure due process by the EFCC.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, House minority leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, accused the anti-graft agency of bias and preferential treatment in the ongoing fight against corruption, saying that it cannot be “different strokes for different folks.” He explained that their grouse with the EFCC style was that Metuh has been held for about 10 days and is not being charged to any competent court of law as stipulated by the Constitution.
We want to lay emphasis on due process; we are not in support of corrupt attitude or actions. I will lay emphasis on due process and the rule of law and the issue here again is the arrest of the voice of the PDP, who is Chief Olisa Metuh.
As a House, we condemn it totally and we insist that, within the next 48 hours, Olisa Metuh should be given administrative bail or be taken before a competent court of jurisdiction where he can be tried and, if pronounced guilty, be made to face the consequence.
Leo Ogor added that the action of the EFCC as it stands negates the principle of the laws that run the commission. It offends the fundamental rights of Olisa Metuh and is like pronouncing him guilty before he is put forward for trial.
On this same issue that borders on the transfer of funds, Isa Jafaru, who was also arrested on the same subject matter, was detained by the EFCC and, in less than eight hours, was given administrative bail after the chairman of the EFCC visited Aso Rock.”
The lawmakers say that the EFCC lacks the power to force suspects to refund stolen money,and that the power lies with the law courts. The minority leader also said that, as a House, they will look into the said $2.1bn arms fund because the legislature never approved such sum of money in the first place, adding that if there is the need, the PDP Caucus will approach the international community to seek redress over Metuh.
See Also: Court Orders EFCC To Detain Metuh