The former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh has been convicted by an Abuja High Court, for the crime of money laundering. As good as this may sound when assessed from the need to fight corruption and send everyone found guilty to jail, a deeper look into the judgement and the process leading to the judgement reveals great absurdity rocking the current Nigerian Judiciary. Metuh has been found guilty on a 7 count charge of money laundering. His conviction gives him 37 years imprisonment (with a N375m fine) , that will run concurrently for 7 years.
Justice Okon Abang who delivered the judgement premised it majorly on his doubt about Metuh’s defense or saying and not on his conviction of the prosecutor’s presentation of evidences to prove that Metuh was indeed guilty. Okon Abang had said this before the judgement; referring to Metuh Abang said “I have my doubts if the first defendant is telling the truth in this matter”. What this means is that, if Abang had believed Metuh was saying the truth, there would be no conviction.
In delivering the Judgement, Justice Abang maintained that the N400m Metuh’s company, Destra Investment got from ONSA was gotten from source that has not legal power to send such amount of money. When Metuh’s lawyer contended that no court has said the source has no such legal right, Abang insisted that the wrong or rightness of the source can’t be the premise of Metuh crime of money laundering. This is ridiculous and wildly unreasonable.
What is money laundering?
According to online dictionary, it is “the concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks or legitimate businesses.” Also, the International Compliance Association defines money laundering as “Money laundering is the generic term used to describe the process by which criminals disguise the original ownership and control of the proceeds of criminal conduct by making such proceeds appear to have derived from a legitimate source. The major point about money laundering is the inability to know the source or origin of the money, and its be a criminally or illegally gotten money. But these were not identified with Metuh’s case.
In the case of Metuh the source or the origin of the money is known, the purpose the money was meant for is known, and the report for the work done with the money is available.
The question is how does this fits into money laundering case? This is the absurdity we have found ourselves, in this present Nigerian judiciary. Just as Metuh’s lawyer had asked, how can a judge decide that Dasuki’s office doesn’t have the legal right to have sent that amount of money when such case was/is not the matter before him to determine? Meanwhile Dasuki has not been convicted of having stole or criminally gotten the money he sent to Metuh. So which illegality did Abang bases his judgement?
Recall that Metuh had said at one time during the trial, when Abang refused to allow him go for treatment, that Abang is trying to settle an age long quarrel with him, over a disagreement they had while in the university. So he said then, that there was no way he can get juatice from Abang. Though many didn’t believe him then, but this judgement of Abang has clearly confirmed Metuh earlier fear. This process of manipulating the laws by judges to convict their enemies must be discouraged and condemned. It might be Metuh today, it can be anyone tomorrow.
This is what the Buhari’s government had in mind when it falsely accused Onoghen and in connivance with the NJC, unconstitutionally removed him from office. We know that the president himself, Mohammadu Buhari has benefited from this aberration that is currently going on in our judiciary. The judgement on the presidential election petition, the Osun election judgement, and the recent Imo election judgement are case in study. Fact is, if Metuh is proven to be guilty of any crime, he should be punished for it according to the law, but to trump up changes against anyone, to jail them is nothing but an absurdity.