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Appeal court nullifies Metuh’s conviction, orders fresh trial

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Wednesday nullified the conviction of former spokesman for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, on alleged money laundering and corruption charges.

The court held that Okon Abang, judge of a federal high court in Abuja, exhibited bias in Metuh’s case.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Metuh on seven counts of allegedly receiving N400 million from the office of the National Security Adviser.

On February 25, 2020, the trial court pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Metuh through his counsel filed an appeal in March 2020.

As part of the 10 issues raised by the appellant for determination by the appellate court, Metuh argued that he was not given a fair trial.

He submitted that the trial judge was biased, considering some of the remarks made during the trial.

He prayed the court to upturn the judgment of the lower court.

Delivering judgment on Wednesday, a three-man panel of justice agreed that the trial judge showed influence of bias against the appellant.

Stephen Adah who read the court’s decision, said, “The narrative of the trial judge suggests someone who didn’t enjoy trying the appellant and counsel because he said they were picking on him.

“He was struggling with the case and even wished that he should be recused out of the case. The influence from this narrative is indisputably to say the least that a trial judge was angered only in his mind that he was wrongly influenced and showed bias against the appellant in this case as this is what manifests from all the outburst, he has infused in his judgment.

 “Learned trial judge showed in his comments, the influence of an abnormal desire all inclination to pursue a predetermined line of action against the appellant.

“This no doubt is an influence of bias against the appellant. There is no way the learned trial judge can be seen to be detached from the malice against the appellant in the case as alleged.

“The duty of a trial judge is to be completely neutral in the case before him. A judge must not only be impartial; he must be seen to be impartial to both sides.

“His duty is to sit and determine the issues raised by parties and to conduct an examination into the parties. He is not an umpire just yet. His job is to find out the truth and do justice according to law.

“Appellants have been able to convince us in this court from the records shown and from all the utterances of the judge that there is likelihood of bias signifying that he was no freeman while the trial was going on.

“If this is allowed, it will set a dangerous president and that is never allowed by our constitution. Trial that was conducted in a hostile atmosphere without any regard to the constitutional right of the person accused can never be upheld.

“The learned trial judge unfortunately has shown the whole world that much was into that judgment than what was put in evidence before the judge.

“It was in this respect that we cannot ignore it. This court in its duty, set that decision aside. Judgment of the lower court delivered on 25th of February 2020 cannot stand because of the evidence of bias. It is accordingly annulled.”

Justice Adah subsequently ordered a return of the suit to the Federal High Court for fresh hearing by another judge.

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News of Lawan as annointed presidential candidate shocked Buhari, say El-Rufai

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Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai says President Muhammadu Buhari was shocked when he was told Senate President Ahmad Lawan was the “anointed” presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He said this on Thursday while responding to questions on a programme on TVC.

In June 2022, some hours before voting at the APC presidential primary, Abdullahi Adamu, national chair of the party, had announced Lawan as the consensus candidate for the party.

Speaking on Thursday, El-Rufai said Buhari was very clear about his position on the choice of a presidential candidate for the party.

He said, “The members of the national working committee called us and said that the national chairman had told them that the senate president is the anointed one.

“Again, the northern APC governors asked for a meeting with the President. We went to the President and said ‘Mr. President, this is what we are hearing; this is not what you’ve been telling us in the past two to three years. Is it true?’

“And the President expressed shock and said ‘I’m not part of this’. And right there and then, he summoned Garba Shehu to issue a statement that he has not anointed anyone. And he told us very clearly ‘I have not anointed anyone’.”

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S’Court dismisses PDP suit against Oyetola’s participation in Osun election

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Gboyega Oyetola

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to restore the nullification of the participation of forner Osun state Governor, Gboyega Oyetola and his deputy Benedict Alabi in the July 16, 2022 governorship election.

A five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Centus Nweze held that the appeal by the PDP lacked merit and directed the counsel to the PDP Kehinde Ogunwumiju to withdraw it.

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The court held that the PDP could not, under the law,question the process leading to the emergence of Oyetola and Alabi as candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.

Recall that Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja had in a judgment on September 30, 2022, nullified the participation of Oyetola and Alabi in the governorship election on the grounds that their nomination forms were endorsed by an acting Chairman of APC, who was also a serving governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.

Justice Nwite’s judgment was set aside by the Court of Appeal, Abuja in a judgment in December last year, a decision the PDP appealed to the Supreme Court.

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No one in Aso Rock working against Tinubu – Lai Mohammed

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  • Says FG funding legacy projects with recovered Abacha loot

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says no official report of anybody in the presidential villa working against the aspiration of the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

He also said President Muhammadu Buhari would not deviate from his commitment towards ensuring the conduct of free, fair and credible general elections.

The minister disclosed this to State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.

He was responding to a claim by Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, that some persons in the Presidential Villa were working against the electoral success of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in the coming presidential election.

He said President Buhari, being the main occupant of the Aso Rock Villa, had stressed times without number that he wanted his administration to deliver a credible exercise.

The minister said that if there were elements within the seat of power working against the victory of the ruling party, it has not been brought officially to his notice.

He said, “One thing I can assure you is that no matter what, this administration is focused, determined to ensure free and fair elections.

“But I think with this administration, the most important person is Mr. President, and I think he has shown by words and by deeds that he is committed to free, fair and credible election. And fair, free, credible elections actually mean not favouring anybody or disadvantaging anybody.

“And everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear even as recently last Friday when he was in Daura, he said the same thing.

“If there’s anybody working against a candidate, we don’t know officially.”

He also responded to the Transparency International’s latest report, which saw Nigeria dropping five places in the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranking.

He said, “We are not fighting corruption because we want to impress Transparency International or any organization whatsoever.

“We’re fighting corruption because we believe if we do not fight corruption, there’ll be no growth either in terms of the economy or even political. Therefore, what we do and what we’re putting in place to fight corruption is not because we want to be rated by anybody.

“If, for instance, what we’re doing catches the attention of Transparency International and they improve and give us better marks, so we’ll and go. However, I can assure you that we do not know what template TI is using.

“Whatever template they’re using is clearly oblivious of what this administration is doing, to fight corruption.

“Corruption fighting is not just by how many people have you arrested? How many people have you tried? How many people have you convicted? Of course, even in that respect, we have a very impressive record. Is it the EFCC or is it the ICPC?

“You see, if you look at what we’re doing even to make corrupt practices, almost impossible or difficult…I’ll just give you two examples. For instance, this administration, when funds were returned from the Abacha loot and other funds were recovered from the US, the UK, and Europe, this administration was that rather than pay these funds into the treasury and face the possibility of it being stolen or looted, the administration decided that we will put this money into a separate account and ask the National Sovereign Investment Fund to manage these funds, and we used this money for specific projects.

“And some of our legacy projects today actually are being financed from our money that have been stolen, which were returned and which we have kept. To me, this is one example of how to fight corruption. An example of how to ensure that people do not steal what has been recovered again.

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