EFCC files money laundering charges against Metuh

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oliseh-metuh-3The Financial and Economic Crimes Commission on Thursday filed seven counts of money laundering against the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

In the fresh charge against the PDP spokesman, the name of a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, also came up as having being paid N21.7m from the N400m allegedly paid the opposition party’s publicity secretary by the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd,.).

The N21.7m is different from the N260m said to have been paid to Anenih by the former NSA as alleged by the EFCC in one of the separate set of charges of misappropriation of arms funds preferred against Dasuki and others before Justice Baba Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maitama, Abuja.

The EFCC named Anenih as one of the beneficiaries of the N400m allegedly collected by Metuh from the Office of the NSA in the seven counts of money laundering it filed on Thursday against the PDP’s spokesperson and a firm, Destra Investments Limited.

The commission alleged in the fresh money laundering case, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/05/2016, that Metuh and Destra, through their account with Diamond Bank Plc, collected N400m from the NSA office on November 22, 2014, for the PDP’s campaign activities.

The prosecution alleged that the N400m was “part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity” of the immediate past NSA, Dasuki.

In the fresh charges, Metuh and Destra allegedly transferred the sum of N21.7m to Anenih and they (Metuh and Destra) thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended in 2012) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

The EFCC alleged in the last and seventh count that out of the N400m collected from the NSA office, Metuh transferred the sum of N21,776,000 to Anenih on December 4, 2014.

The count seven reads, “That you, Olisa Metuh, and Destra Investments Limited on December 4, 2014, did transfer the sum of N21,776,000 being part of the sum of N400m, which directly represented the unlawful activity of Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, the then National Security Adviser, (to wit: breach of trust and corruption), to Chief Tony Anenih and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”

In counts five and six, Metuh and the company on December 2, 2014, allegedly made separate cash payments of $1m each to Kabiru Ibrahim and Sie Iyenome of Capital Field Investments.

Both cash payments of the total sum of $2m were said to have been made through an agent of the accused person named Nneka Nicole Ararume.

By the cash payments, the accused were said to have committed offences contrary to Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

In counts one and two, the EFCC alleged that Metuh and Destra Investments Limited “took possession” of the sum of N400m from the account of the Office of the NSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria without contract award and converted the money.

They were said to have committed offences contrary to provisions of Section 15(2)(d) and 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended in 2012) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

The prosecution also alleged in count four that sometime between November 2014 and March 2015, Metuh and the firm used the said N400m for the campaign activities of the PDP and other purposes while “having reason to know that the money directly represented proceeds of an unlawful activity of Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (retd).”

The case has not been assigned to a judge before whom the accused will be arraigned.

But our correspondent learnt that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, could have assigned the case before the end of Thursday (yesterday) so that the arraignment could take place on Friday.

Meanwhile, while the case was being filed on Thursday, a fresh suit filed by Metuh for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights, seeking an order releasing him from the EFCC custody, came up before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

But Justice Abang on Thursday refused to grant an oral application by Metuh, through one of his lawyers, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), to compel the EFCC to file its response to the suit on Thursday so that the court could proceed to hear the case on the same day.

The judge, in refusing the application, upheld the opposition of the EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Joacobs (SAN), that the EFCC was still within the five days provided for by the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules to respond to the suit.

Justice Abang held that the court lacked the power to abridge the time within which the respondent (the EFCC) could file its response without its consent.

The suit was filed on behalf of Metuh, who had been in EFCC custody since January 5, on January 8, but was served on the respondent on January 13.

Jacobs insisted on Thursday, while opposing the oral application for the abridgement of the time, that the arrest and detention of Metuh were lawful, that they were backed by court orders.

In a bench ruling, Justice Abang held that by virtue of the provisions of Order 2, Rules 6 and 7 of the Fundamental Human Rights Procedure Rules, the EFCC was entitled to five days to file its response after being served with the originating processes.

“Parties before the court can only be heard within the rules of court,” the judge ruled.

He ruled that the five days from January 13, excluding the day of service and Sunday (January 17) would expire on January 19.

He adjourned the hearing of the suit till January 20. (Punch)

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