Arms Deal Scam: Olisa Metuh Arrested as EFCC Closes on Corrupt PDP Officials

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These are not the best of times for some top shots of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as they are hounded by the strong arm of the law for alleged offences ranging from fraud and money laundering.

Indeed, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has placed the former PDP National Chairman, Haliru Mohammed, under the strict supervision of the Inspector General of Police, pending a ruling on his bail application tomorrow.

The Kebbi State-born PDP chieftain was brought to the court in a wheelchair.

This is as the Special Assistant to the PDP spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, Richard Ihediwa, confirmed that Metuh was whisked away yesterday morning by EFCC personnel who stormed his Abuja residence, saying the invitation is for him to clarify issues with the commission.

Haliru’s son, Abbah Mohammed Bello was ordered by the Judge to be remanded in Kuje prison till tomorrow when the court is equally expected to deliver ruling on his bail application.

Haliru, his son, Abba, and a company BAM Projects and Properties Ltd were yesterday arraigned before Justice Mohammed on a four-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust and corruption.

Specifically, the Federal Government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged before the court that the former PDP boss collected and concealed N300million from the embattled Col Sambo Dasuku (rtd), former National Security Adviser during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Though Haliru, who had equally served Jonathan as Defence Minister, pleaded not guilty to the charge alongside his son, the EFCC prosecutor, Aliyu Yusuf, told the court to fix a date for their trial as well as refuse them bail.

However, Abdullaziz Ibrahim, counsel to Haliru (3rd defendant) and O.Osoka, representing Abba (1stdefendant), both objected to the second leg of Yusuf’s application, insisting that they had filed separate bail applications.

Abba’s bail application was dated December 31 and filed same day, while Haliru’s was dated December 29th but filed the next day.

Arguing the bail application of the 1st defendant (Abba), his counsel told the court he does not pose a “flight risk and cannot interfere in the cause of investigation.

“My Lord, the 1st defendant has been in the custody of the EFCC for 41 days; he has been under administrative bail and there is also an order of court granting him bail; we therefore urge this court to grant him bail which should not be excessive” Osoka begged the court.

Osoka brought his application under Sections of 162 and 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 as well as Sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

In the same vein, Haliru’s lawyer, Ibrahim, urged the court to grant the former PDP Chairman bail on “self recognizance” or in the alternative, “on very liberal terms.”

His application was brought pursuant to Sections 162, 165 (1) of ACJA, and Sections 35, 36 (5) and (6) of CFRN.

In pushing for Haliru’s bail, his lawyer told the court that his client has been ill as evident in his being brought to court in an ambulance , accompanied by two nurses from an Abuja hospital, where he is undergoing treatment.

In opposing both applications, the prosecutor argued that both father and son had not placed sufficient materials before the court to warrant bail.

On Abba’s case, the EFCC lawyer said he did not depose to any affidavit that his ailment cannot be treated in prison custody.

In addition, Yusuf told the court that Haliru is likely to interfere with investigation if granted bail.

Counts one and two are said to be offences contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

In count three, the accused persons allegedly concealed the money in their Sterling Bank Plc account when they “knew the said Doctor Aliru Bello and Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (retd.) to be engaged in a criminal conduct.”

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 17 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 17(b) of the same Act.

They were also accused of conspiring to “launder” the money, which they claimed to have received for political campaign when they “reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col. Dasuki, the then National Security Adviser.”

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the PDP Olisa Metuh confirmed his arrest by the EFCC in Abuja, yesterday in connection with the $2.1billion arms deal alleged to have been perpetrated by ex-NSA Dasuki.

Metuh, according to a statement by his Special Assistant, Richard Ihediwa, was whisked away in the morning yesterday by EFCC personnel who stormed his Abuja residence, saying the invitation is for him to clarify issues with the commission.

The statement which read in full said: “Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrived the Abuja home of the spokesman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, this morning, inviting him to follow them to the commission’s headquarters.

“Upon enquiry on the reasons for the invitation, the officials stated that he has some issues to clear with the commission. They also said he was not being arrested but friendly invited. The operatives, four in number, came in a white unmarked Toyota Hiace bus.

“As at the time of issuing this statement, Chief Metuh is still being kept at the commission’s headquarters and his lawyers were making frantic efforts to reach him.”

The statement explained that, “While details of why Chief Metuh was invited are yet to be made pubic by the commission, it could be recalled that severally, Chief Metuh, as the mouthpiece of the opposition party had alerted in various press conferences and statements that he has been under threat and that the ruling party and the government have been very uncomfortable with his stance.

“The latest being the outburst and threats by the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyegun in reaction to Chief Metuh’s criticisms of President Buhari’s widely criticized response on government’s disobedience of court orders, during the last Wednesday’s Presidential media chat.

“The Office of the National Publicity Secretary will keep the public updated on any development on the issue.”

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