(Being text of press statement by the family of Chief Olisa Metuh)
The entire Metuh family has been following the issues regarding our son, Chief Olisa Metuh and his ordeal since his arrest, detention and arraignment by the EFCC since January this year.
We are aware that the matter regarding our son is subjudice hence we shall only comment on matters that are already in the public domain. For the avoidance of doubt, we want to make the following clarifications.
In December 2015, when the issue of the N400 million came up and our son was invited by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), he immediately reported at ONSA. He then made enquires regarding the source of the money with a clear statement to ONSA that if the source of the money is from government coffers, he was willing to refund accordingly not minding that the money has been expended as directed by the former President. At that time, ONSA did not make the necessary clarifications.
Upon his arrest on the 5th of January 2016, the EFCC went to town mentioning several figures that were not the exact amount of money transferred to our son’s account. They alleged that N1.4 billion arms deal money was traced to his account and that he has been receiving N4 million monthly from ONSA. They kept him in detention for a period of 9 days after which he was transferred to Kuje prison where he spent another 13 days.
Nigerians are aware that of all the people who have been facing the predicament of having worked for either the PDP or the previous Federal Government, our son has been the only one that was brought to court in handcuffs, paraded as a common criminal and treated without any dignity whatsoever. Eventually our son was granted bail under one of the most stringent conditions ever in the history of our country. Fortunately, we were able to meet the bail conditions and our son has been facing trial since then. He has been cooperating with the judiciary and done all required of him in the course of the trial.
May we also point out that since his arrest and even up to about a week ago, our son has made several overtures to the arresting authority for him to refund the money since they now claim in court that it came from government coffers. All efforts have been unsuccessful.
It is instructive that out of over 300 names listed as having received money from the ONSA, all those who offered to refund money were not arraigned in court. Our son is the only one whose offer to refund money was rejected and has been arraigned in court and his case given accelerated hearing. On each trial date the hostility in the courtroom is palpable.
As we speak to you the offer to refund the money to the federal government is still open and the government is yet to accept the offer. It is therefore clear to us that the intention is not the recovery of funds but a clear persecution of our son.
Our son was diagnosed with a spinal cord problem in 2004. He has consistently managed it over this period. However, due to the treatments he received while in custody, the situation got aggravated. In the course of his trial, the situation deteriorated, especially after he fell at a meeting in the party office for which he was rushed to the National Hospital and was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit. Notwithstanding the grave medical condition, he still kept his court date the very next morning in spite of medical advice by the doctors. On another such occasion he vomited in court and had to be rushed back to the hospital where he is lying critically ill.
Upon doctors’ recommendation, our son made application to be granted leave and his international passport released for him to travel to a recommended neurological hospital in London for immediate, critical delicate corrective surgery to save him from imminent irreversible paralysis.
We are therefore shocked that with all the information available to the court regarding his grave medical condition and the critical need for him to have this corrective surgery, the Federal High Court Abuja refused his application. It is also instructive to note that the Federal High Court Abuja on the same day granted leave to someone facing similar trial to go abroad for one month for prayers while our ailing son is not allowed to travel for urgent medical attention. We are also aware that a few others facing similar trials, within the same federal high court jurisdiction, have been granted leave to travel for medical treatment and their passports released to them by the same court where they were granted bail.
It is absurd that the main reason given by the court for refusing the application is that there are several teaching hospitals in Nigeria that can handle such critical spinal problems, especially as this dramatic claim by the trial Judge has no medical basis whatsoever. This is clearly one of the tactics being used by the court in an attempt to whip up public sentiments against our son in this courtroom media trial moreso when it is judicial notice that even public officers are allowed to travel abroad on ordinary medical check-up and at public expense. Our request is on the basis of a life-threatening ailment and will be undertaken with our own private resources.
Sadly, as we speak, our son is lying on admission at the National Hospital where his spinal ailment is fast deteriorating and doctors fearing the worse for his life. He currently relies on palliatives being given to him at the National Hospital Abuja waiting for the opportunity of a corrective surgery.
The essence of a criminal trial is to achieve justice and no justice can be achieved if someone dies in the process. We feel more convinced that this is a political vendetta considering the fact of his efforts to pay back the money if it came from government coffers not minding that the money has been expended as directed by the former President.
Till date, the powers that be have shown that they would rather prosecute our son than accept a refund of the money. For those who are conversant with the goings on in the court, it is no longer news that our son was not informed that this money came from a source other than from the former President. Why then this concerted effort to silence him finally.
Our concern now is that that our son should not be sentenced to a life in a wheel chair especially as we believe that the paramount interest of the authorities should rather be more on the recovery of funds. In this case, our son has from the onset shown his willingness to refund the money rather than dragging in other party members involved in the said assignment.
Finally we want Nigerians to note that our son has never held any public office, has never worked for any arm of government and is not being charged for stealing and/or corrupt enrichment.
Chief Gilbert Metuh.
For and On behalf of the Metuh family.