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Metuh’s Trial: Justice Abang Okon Lied – Chidi Odinkalu

Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has reacted to the denial of Justice Abang of not knowing Metuh as his classmate as untrue.

The trial of the PDP Spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh by EFCC under Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja, has taken a new turn. 

Chief Metuh, who is facing trial over corruption charges in the court sitting under Justice Abang, had written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Auta.

He is demanding that the case be withdrawn from Mr. Abang and assigned to another judge on the grounds that Justice Abang was his classmate at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos.

He is also of the view that he might not get fair trial from him because of some views expressed by the Judge when they met at a function in Akwa Ibom State last year. 

But in reacting to Metuh’s petition against him in an open court, at the last hearing on Thursday, Justice Abang said he was not aware Mr. Metuh was his classmate. 

“I am not aware that the first defendant was my classmate, he said he is my classmate,” the judge said. 

However, according to a reputable online media outfit, PREMIUM TIMES which ran a check on the claims of Justice Abang, it revealed that Abang and Metuh graduated on the same day, November 3, 1988 from the law school.

It, therefore, wondered why the Honourable Judge would deny knowing Chief Metuh. 

The immediate past National Human Rights Commission [NHRC] chairman, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has reacted to the denial of Justice Abang of not knowing Metuh as his classmate.

Prof. Odinkalu was also a classmate of both Metuh and Justice Abang.

He said Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja knows the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Olisa Metuh, as a former classmate.

According to Prof Odinkalu, “Abang surely knows that he and Olisa went to school together. 

“We were all in the same law school set in 1988. We were all admitted to the Bar same day on 3 Nov 1988. 

“Fashola, Anyim, Godswill Akpabio, Liyel Imoke, Nnia Nwodo all were in that set. 

“I know Olisa and justice Abang have been together at more than two class reunions in Lagos, Uyo. Someone isn’t being totally candid.”

I am of the view that Justice Abang Okon, should take a cue from the decision of his colleague, Justice Abdul Kafarati of the same Federal high court Abuja who dropped Saraki’s case, saying that his integrity was at stake.

This I line with the findings by Premium Times and confirmation by Prof Chidi Odinkalu that Metuh and Justice Abang were classmates and know themselves, against the denial of the Honourable Judge.

Justice Kafarati washed his hands off Saraki’s case yesterday, following reports from an online publication, SaharaReporters, alleging acts of corruption against the Judge. 

It is ethical that whenever the integrity of a judge is questioned in any case he is presiding, the judge usually hands off the case.

More so where Metuh claimed in his petition that he had had an issue with the Judge when they met in an occasion. 

If Justice Abang continues this trial and convicts Metuh, many will cry out that it was a vendetta against the defendant since they have had personal issues. 

If the Judge acquits Metuh, some will think Metuh blackmailed him into doing that. 

The best option is for the Justice to discontinue this case and allow it reassigned to another judge. 

Eneh Victor Chigozie, a right advocate, writes from Enugu.

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