Metuh tore confessional statement

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The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, has torn a confessional statement he made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, a top operative of the commission has said.

The top officer of the commission, who confided in one of our correspondents on Tuesday, alleged that Metuh tore the statement when it was brought to him for his signature.

The source alleged that the PDP spokesman tore the statement he had earlier made to shreds and attempted to put the pieces in his mouth when operatives stopped him.

Metuh was arrested by the EFCC last week for allegedly receiving N1.4bn meant for the purchase of arms from a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).

The source said the interrogators believed that the PDP spokesman destroyed the statement after realising the gravity of the evidence against him.

The top operative added that the commission was considering filing additional charges against Metuh for allegedly destroying a major evidence in the case against him.

He added that the action of the PDP spokesman amounted to a wilful damage of government property.

“The tearing of statement is tantamount to wilful destruction of government property and it is a serious offence. Also, the fact that he obstructed operatives from performing their job is a criminal offence.

“We will explore the possibility of filing a separate charge against him at the Federal Capital Territory High Court,” the source said.

Efforts to get Metuh’s aide, Mr. Richard Ihediwa, to react to this latest development did not succeed as calls to his mobile telephone indicated that it was switched off.

There was a report last week that the EFCC was investigating the account of Destra Investment Limited, owned by Metuh.

According to the report, the EFCC investigators discovered that Destra Investment Limited was used to fund the PDP’s activities, including its 2015 campaigns.

The EFCC alleged that the company, which had N6, 676,576.06 as of November 24, 2014, recorded a balance of N1.4bn by last December.

Some of the deposits in the account are N400m from the Office of National Security Adviser on November 24, 2014; N253m on December 2 and 4, 2014 from Ibrahim Kabiru, whose identity had yet to be confirmed; N91m on December 2, 2014 from Capital Field Investment; and N92m on December 3, 2014.

Meanwhile, Metuh has said he will no longer speak to investigators about the N400m he collected from former President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said rather, he would only speak in an open court.

Metuh had admitted before the EFCC operatives that he received N400m from Jonathan, but refused to disclose what the money was meant for or for what job.

In a statement by his Special Assistant, Ihediwa, in Abuja on Tuesday, Metuh claimed that he executed a project for the former President but refused to explain the job he executed for the ex-President that fetched him the huge sum.

Metuh, who is said to be on hunger strike, said he would only disclose the job he did for the defeated former President in an open court.

Ihediwa said, “In exercise of his rights, he has since given his statement to the EFCC wherein he submitted that he received the sum of N400m from the former President for an assignment, which he executed to the satisfaction of the former President.

“In further exercise of his rights, Metuh has also indicated his readiness to make public the nature of this assignment, but only in an open court in line with the laws of the land, and where his statement would not be distorted by anybody.”

Meanwhile, the caucus of the PDP in the House of Representatives has demanded the release of the PDP spokesperson from the custody of the EFCC within 48 hours.

The Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor, a member of the PDP from Delta State, who spoke on behalf of the caucus, clarified that the demand did not mean that the lawmakers were against the anti-corruption war of the Federal Government.

Ogor added, “We are not in support of corruption or any corrupt person, but due process must be followed. Metuh has been arrested and kept in detention for nine, almost 10 days, without trial.

“We insist that he should be taken to a court of competent jurisdiction or granted an administrative bail as has been done in cases involving other persons.”

The caucus recalled that like Metuh, former Kaduna State military governor, Brig.-Gen. Jafaru Isa, a “known associate” of President Muhammadu Buhari, was also detained by the EFCC for receiving N170m from former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

However, the PDP observed that in the case of Jafaru, he was granted bail soon after his arrest by the anti-graft agency.

“Isa Jafaru was granted bail after the EFCC chairman (Ibrahim Magu) visited Aso Rock. What does that tell us?” Ogor asked.

The EFCC had said Isa was granted bail after he refunded N100m from the N170m he collected from Dasuki.

Ogor added, “If you make a reference to the refund of money, then we have missed the point. The point is ‘why keep a man in detention endlessly without trial’? It is not the duty of the EFCC to direct anybody to refund money. That is the responsibility of the courts.’’

PDP’s National Legal Adviser, Mr. Victor Kwon, told one of our correspondents that he was not at the place where the incident allegedly happened.

Kwon said, “I wasn’t there and I won’t want to react to hearsay.

“Only those who were there can confirm or deny whether the incident took place or not.”

Efforts to get the EFCC’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, to confirm Metuh’s action, had not succeeded as of the time of sending this report as calls to his mobile telephone did not connect.

In a related development, the House of Representatives in its plenary session on Tuesday debated a bill to amend the EFCC Act 2004.

The bill, which was sponsored by Mr. Nicholas Ossai, seeks to restructure the commission and strengthen it.

The bill, among others, seeks to restructure the composition of the EFCC by introducing various professional bodies into its operations.

It also seeks to empower the commission to seize funds held in the bank accounts of individuals, which the owners could not defend or explain their sources.

A member, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said, “We need to professionalise the EFCC so that the agency can be sound in fighting corruption.”

But members like Abdulrazak Namdas and Aminu Suleiman expressed fears that introducing “external bodies” like the Nigerian Bar Association could politicise the operations of the commission.

“These professional bodies are themselves political bodies in a way because they have political affiliations. At the end of the day, they will rather delay the work of the commission than speeding it up,” Namdas stated.

On his part, Suleiman said, “Bringing in other organs to be part of the EFCC will politicise the commission.”

The bill passed its second reading and was referred to the House Committee on Financial Crimes by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.

Punch

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