Barely 24 hours after he announced his withdrawal as a defence lawyer to a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, Mr. Emeka Etiaba SAN, on Tuesday re-appeared in the case.
Etiaba had withdrawn from the case Monday after the judge insisted that the trial must continue after Metuh collapsed in court.
But the judge, Justice Okon Abang, had overruled Etiaba’s application to withdraw from the case, saying it was an attempt to delay the case.
Insisting that he had withdrawn from the case, Etiaba refused to answer further questions asked by the judge even after the ruling dismissing his application for withdrawal from the case.
The judge described Etiaba’s attitude as rude and unethical.
The judge, however, adjourned the case till Tuesday after the court’s medical official said Metuh needed to see his doctor.
At the trial which resumed on Tuesday, counsel to his company, Destra Investment which is also on trial asked the court for an adjournment because Mr Metuh is receiving treatment at the hospital.
But the prosecutor, Mr Sylvania Tahir, in his reply to the application said that it has not been brought to the notice of the court what transpired after the defendant was taken to the hospital, especially because the court did not invite the medical personnel who attended to the defendant.
Mr Tahir said as a result of that, Metuh is not entitled to enjoy the benefits of section 266 of ACJA.
According to him, it should not be presumed that the court or the prosecution knows the state of the accused person at the moment since there is no medical report before the court explaining the absence of the defendant in this case.
He noted that what is playing out is a complete disregard and disobedience to the authority of the court and the judiciary.
Mr Tahir said that there was no reasonable explanation for the absence of the defendant and so he cannot enjoy the benefits of section 266o of ACJA.
“We are urging the court to invoke the subsection A of the said act to take the conduct of the accused yesterday and continuance today as misconduct and proceed with the trial in his absence.”
He said that going on with the trial in the absence of Metuh will not amount to the violation of the right to fair hearing as submitted by counsel to Destra in his submission.
He added that a defendant cannot hold the court to ransom by doing things or taking steps deliberately intended to scuttle or frustrate the fair trial of a case.