Goodluck Jonathan Ex-President asks Metuh for N1b to appear as witness in fraud trial

Jonathan argued that the order to appear as a witness in court is an attempt to embarrass him.

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan play

Former President Goodluck Jonathan

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has asked former National Publicity Secretary of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh to pay him the sum of N1 billion to enable him appear as a defence witness in his money laundering trial.

In an application filed before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, October 30, 2017, the former president argued that the money will be used to cover travelling expenses for himself and his security personnel, from Bayelsa State where he resides. He also mentioned that failure to provide the money means he'll refuse to appear before the court as provided by the constitution.

His application is in response to a subpoena filed by Metuh's lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), requiring the former president to appear as a witness in the ongoing trial.

Justice Abang signed the request on Monday, October 23, and required the presence of the former president at the hearing two days later but he failed to appear because he had not been served the notice by the court's bailiff.

In his application on Monday, Jonathan's first prayer to the court sought to set aside the subpoena as he argued that he had no direct link to Metuh and has no knowledge of the charges the defendant is facing.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, on a seven-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering.

The alleged offence involved $2 million and N400 million which the defendants allegedly received from the Office of the NSA, Sambo Dasuki, in 2014.

In his application filed by his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Jonathan said that the subpoena is an attempt to embarrass him as it could likely expose him to a criminal charge, penalty or forfeiture.

He argued that the evidence sought to be obtained from the him would amount to an invasion of his privacy, and family life as provided for in Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The affidavit read, "That he (Jonathan) as the then President of the Federal Republic (2010-2015), appointed ministers and different persons to carry out the day-to-day running of the government activities and such appointees are those who directly related with the President and not third parties, such as the 2nd respondent (Metuh).

"That it is such appointees that can explain daily government's transactions which they directly supervised and not the President who was the overall boss.

"That the 2nd respondent, Olisa Metuh, was never at any time a personal aide or appointee of the applicant.

"That he (Jonathan) knows nothing about the seven charges for which the 1st defendant/ 2nd respondent is standing trial before this court and has absolutely nothing to testify about before this court.

"That he, as a former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the event that this honourable court refuses prayer one on the motion paper, shall require the sum of N1,000,000,000.00 (one billion naira) only, to cover travelling expenses for himself and his security personnel, from his home town Otuoke, in Bayelsa State, to Abuja, and also for logistics, and provision of tight security to cover any period of time that he might spend appearing before this court as President of Nigeria between 2010 and 2015.

"That Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, the lead counsel in this matter, informed me under the same circumstances stated in paragraph 4 above, and I verily believe him, that by virtue of the provisions of section 241(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, the applicant is not bound to attend to court except the 2nd respondent herein (Olisa Metuh), who applied for the issuance of subpoena ad testificandum on him, pays for his travelling expenses."

After Jonathan failed to appear before the court on Wednesday, Justice Abang directed the court bailiff to ensure the service of the subpoena on him within five days.

The former president is not the only high profile individual to have turned down an invitation by the court to appear as a witness.

ALSO READ: Metuh wants Goodluck Jonathan as witness in fraud case

Despite the ruling of the Court of Appeal that ordered for the appearance of detained former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, as a witness in the trial, the Department of State Service (DSS) failed to produce him in court.

Dasuki's counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), appeared before Justice Abang on Monday, October 23, to oppose the request to compel his client to testify as Metuh's defence witness.

During Wednesday's hearing, Justice Abang dismissed Dasuki's application on the premise that granting it would amount to breach of the Court of Appeal's order which his court cannot review.

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