Alleged threats: Lead Counsels withdraw from Metuh’s case

Two lead counsels, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN, and Emeka Etiaba SAN, appearing for former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, in his N400m money laundering case before the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday withdrawn from
further appearance.

According to them, they could not afford to appear in the matter day-to-day as earlier ordered by the presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang.

While Metuh was present in court on Tuesday, his two lead lawyers were absent from the proceedings in which he and his company, Destra Investment Limited, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on seven counts of money laundering.

Consequently, in an application which was filed before the court on Tuesday, the two senior advocates said they had received “threats to life” and been under “immense pressure” for appearing in the case.

The two lawyers’ had been defending the ex-spokesperson on money laundering case which was instituted in January 2016.

“The honourable court has ordered day-to-day hearing in this matter and counsel will be unable to afford the time, having regard to the diaries of their respective offices,” they stated as part of the basis of their application.

An affidavit deposed to by Ikpeazu and filed in support of the application, reads, “Emeka Etiaba (SAN) and myself have been going through immense pressure with respect to our appearance in this case and will be unable to continue to represent the first defendant.

“I have received numerous threats to my life from diverse sources through telephone calls with disguised numbers giving ultimatums andthreatening to kill me based on the manner they claimed I had been mishandling the case.”

Ikpeazu stated that he was informed by Etiaba that “he had received similar threats and will thus no longer proceed with the representation of the first defendant”.

Meanwhile, the trial judge has granted an adjournment to enable the lawyers to appear in court to move their application to which  EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, raised no objection.

The judge has since adjourned the case till March 13.

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