A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, on Friday told the Federal High Court in Abuja that a medication he was taking was preventing him from following court proceedings.
Metuh is standing trial for allegedly receiving N400m from the office of the former National Security Adviser, retired Col. Sambo Dasuki.
Metuh had, on March 14, for the third time, asked the court to order the release of his passport to enable him travel for medical treatment.
At the resumed trial on Friday, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), counsel to Metuh, told court that due to the sedative influence of the medication Metuh was receiving, he was unable to follow proceedings in court.
“Yesterday, after the court session, I had a discussion with my client and I realised that even though he was physically present in court, he did not have the presence of mind to appreciate what went on in court.
“This is because he is on painkillers which cause him to be sleepy or sleep in court; otherwise, he is under severe pain.
“Section 266 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act provides that a defendant has to be present in court all though his trial, not only physically but must also be able to follow through the proceedings in court.”
Etiaba claimed that Metuh was unable to follow proceedings in court on account of the drugs he was taking without which he would be in pain.
He prayed the court for an adjournment to enable Metuh to get palliative medication.
“We ask for a short adjournment to enable him access some palliative medical procedure, pending when the court will rule on his application to travel for medical treatment abroad.
Etiaba argued that Section 278 had nothing to do with Metuh’s application as Metuh was not of unsound mind or lacked mental capacity.
According to him, Metuh is in excruciating pain and the medication he is on to relieve the pain makes him sleep in court and unable to follow his trial.
However, the Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir, objected to the application for an adjournment to enable Metuh to receive palliative medical treatment.
Referring the court to Section 278 of ACJA, Tahir said that what the law provided in such circumstances was for the court to order a medical investigation to ascertain the mental capacity or soundness of mind of the defendant.
According to him, where the court is satisfied that the defendant standing trial lacks the mental capacity to do so, the court will order that he be remanded in an asylum and treated while there.
The Judge, Justice Okon Abang, in his ruling noted that it was at the discretion of the court to grant an adjournment.
He, however, stated that noting had been placed before the court to enable it exercise its discretion in favour of Metuh.
“It is my view that there is no material placed by the defendant before the court to enable the court exercise its discretion in his favour and grant the application.
“There is nothing placed before the court to show that the defendant is in excruciating pain. The defendant is in court and the application for adjournment lacks merit and is refused.
Abang said that he might deliver ruling on Metuh’s application seeking the release of his international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical treatment on April 20.
He adjourned the matter until April 19 and April 20. (NAN)