The trial of a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, witnessed a new twist on March 13, 2019 as his counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, told a Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Okon Abang, that his client had written a letter of disengagement to his law firm.
It will be recalled that at the proceedings of March 5, 2019 Ikpeazu had brought before the court, an application seeking to withdraw from the case citing “immense pressure”. Ikpeazu and Emeka Etiaba, SAN had been leading the defence of Metuh since January 2016 when he was arraigned, but in the said application, sought to withdraw from the case.
Justice Abang had fixed March 13, 2019 for the hearing of the applications requesting to withdraw from the case.
At today’s proceeding, prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, informed the court that the prosecution had responded to the application of the defence.
He said: “Going by the event that transpired at the last date, the case was adjourned based on the application filed by the lead senior counsel to the 1st defendant and the prosecution has responded to the application and is ready to move to the next stage of the matter in the interest of justice. We have responded, and the notice is ready for argument.”
Responding, Ikpeazu told the court that the prosecution was correct, adding that “he briefed us already and we filed an affidavit and we have filed an application dated March 12, 2013”.
However, Ikpeazu noted that: “The first defendant says we can no longer effectively represent him and he has the right. If my lord could enforce his constitutional right in accordance with Section 36(C) of the constitution, we ask that you discharge me, Emeka Etiaba, SAN from further appearance”.
Defence counsel, further added that since the application has been overtaken by events, he applied to withdraw his application.
In ruling on the new development, the trial judge held that: “It is my view that the moment an application is filed, it has to be heard; a court of law cannot carry out an investigation.
“The court cannot question his reasons for the disengagement.
“The counsel to the first defendant is hereby discharged from the case.”
Consequent upon the disengagement, Metuh was represented by a new lawyer, Abel Oziokor, who applied for a short adjournment to enable him get acquainted with the case.
He thereafter prayed the court to grant him two weeks to enable him get proper briefing.
No objection was raised from any of the counsels, and in view of that, the matter was adjourned to March 28, 2019 for continuation defence.
Media & Publicity
March 14, 2019