Court rejects medical report on Metuh, threatens to revoke bail
Justice Okon Abang gave the order while delivering ruling on an application by the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, seeking revocation of the bail earlier granted Metuh following his absence from trial last Monday and Tuesday.
The application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was against the backdrop of a medical report by Dr. O.C Ekweogu of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, indicating that Metuh is sick and on admission.
Metuh’s counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), based on the said report dated January 21, sought an adjournment to enable his client attend to his health.
In his ruling, Justice Abang agreed with the prosecution counsel that the “purported medical report is a trash, a useless paper meant for a trash bin.”
The court alleged that the letter was strategically aimed at delaying the trial of Metuh. According to the judge, the said letter was fraudulently smuggled into the court’s record by an unknown person with the intent to mislead the court.
“The person who submitted that letter must be known to the court, in this instant case, he is unknown. The court of law cannot rely on a public document tendered by a none party in a suit. It has no charge number and violated the three ways by which a public document can be submitted before a court.”
The court also observed that the said letter was not accompanied by a verifiable affidavit. The judge expressed surprise that counsel to the first and second defendants could not see anything wrong with the letter.
Justice Abang stated that the most appalling was the fact that the medical report was full of medical terms that could not make meaning to the court. He, therefore, rejected it and held that Metuh had not attended trial on three consecutive occasions without cogent reason.
Consequently, Justice Abang held that the EFCC’s application seeking revocation of the defendant’s bail “deserves to succeed”.
The judge noted that although Tahir did not request for Metuh’s arrest, “it is my view that fact of arrest of the first defendant is inherent in revocation of the bail.”
“Arrest is a consequential order. If the first defendant’s bail is revoked, he will be arrested. The outcome of his response when he appears in court shall determine whether or not to put him in prison. The fact that the prosecution did not hinge his application for revocation of bail on Section 169 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, is not fatal.”
Also, the court stated that it was not inclined to try Metuh in absentia because Section 266 of ACJA provides that a defendant in a criminal matter must attend trial. Justice Abang also refused the application filed by Metuh, seeking an adjournment on health ground.
“This court shall henceforth not accept any other medical report issued by any medical doctor in Nigeria until the trial is concluded,” Justice Abang ordered. But the court, having considered the passionate plea of first and second defence counsel, suspended the revocation order.
“I hereby suspend my decision revoking the bail. It is expected that the defendant will turn a new leaf, show compulsion and attend his trial on February 5 and 6. If he fails to appear in court on these dates fixed for continuation of his trial, his bail shall be revoked and he will be remanded in prison custody,”, Abang held.
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