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Ex-PDP spokesman, Metuh, jailed seven years, to return N375m

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday convicted and sentenced a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party , Olisa Metuh , to seven years’ imprisonment for money laundering arising from his activities preceding the 2015 presidential election which his party lost .
Justice Okon Abang, delivering judgment at the proceedings which lasted over six hours, convicted Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited , on all the seven counts preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Counts 1, 2 , 3, 4 and 7 had to do with the fraudulent receipt , concealment and unlawful use of the N 400 m paid to them by the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014 and which they used for political activities of the PDP and other personal purposes .
The judge also convicted Metuh and his firm for transacting with cash sum of $ 2m without going through a financial institution as alleged in counts 4 and 5 .
He agreed that the prosecution , led by Mr Sylvanus Tahir , successfully proved that the transaction violated Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition ) Act 2011 as amended in 2012 , which pegs the maximum cash transaction an individual can undertake outside a financial institution at N 5m .
The judge said , “ The origin of the $ 2m remains undocumented which goes to the essence of the anti – money laundering law . ”

He noted that “ the sum of $ 2m and part of the N 400 m from the Office of the National Security Adviser was used to buy property on Banana Island, Lagos , from Daniel Ford International . ”
Shortly before passing the sentences on Tuesday , the judge said the facts presented in the case showed that Nigeria needed a rebirth .
He said , “Public funds being dissipated by those connected to those in public office and public officers themselves is an evidence of how corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigeria .
“ The situation requires a quick diagnostic steps – a drastic situation requires a drastic action – for the attainment of a social engineering in our society , and by so doing, the future of the next generation can be assured . We indeed need a national rebirth . ”
He sentenced Metuh to seven years imprisonment for counts 1, 2, 4 and 7; five years’ imprisonment in respect of count 3; and three years in respect of each of counts 5 and 6.
He , however , directed that the sentences would run concurrently starting from Tuesday .
The order implied that the ex – PDP spokesperson would only spend in prison the highest number of years of jail terms imposed by the court , which is seven years.
Justice Abang ordered Metuh to refund N 375 m to the Federal Government , as the N 25m which would have made it the complete N 400 m had already been voluntarily refunded by Abba Dabo.
Dabo, who testified as a prosecution witness, had said he received N 25 m from Metuh but had to voluntarily refund it to government after he realised that it came from funds linked to the “botched arms purchase deal ” .
Justice Abang also ordered Destra Investment Limited to pay N 25 m to the Federal Government as a fine .
He ordered the accounts of Destra Investment with Diamond Bank and Asset Resource Management to be closed and their proceeds forfeited to the Federal Government .
The judge also ordered the winding up of Destra Investment.
Metuh maintained a straight but sometimes smiling face during the proceedings .
After the proceedings ended at about 3. 20 pm on Tuesday, Metuh was surrounded by friends , relatives and political allies, including a former Minister of Aviation , Osita Chidoka , before he was led into a waiting detention room on the same floor with courtroom , by prison officials.

In his analysis of the evidence led by parties to the case , Justice Abang ruled that the transfer of the N 400 m to Destra Investment’ s bank account on November 24 , 2015 , was unlawfully done “in breach of public trust ” by the then NSA , Col. Sambo Dasuki ( retd).
The judge ruled that Metuh and his firm reasonably ought to have known that the money formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity of the ex – NSA , as they had no form of contractual relationship with ONSA , to justify the payment.
He ruled that Dasuki, who is still being prosecuted for the primary offences of “ breach of trust ” and “corruption , ” needed not to be first convicted before Metuh and his firm could be charged with money laundering or convicted.

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