It’s probably a huge Christmas gift and relief for the former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Olisa Metuh, who on Thursday, regained his freedom eleven months after being convicted and remanded in Kuje Correctional Center.
Metuh’s release from prison custody followed a ruling by Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Federal High Court in Abuja granting him bail in the sum of N250million in addition to producing responsible citizens that would stand as his surety.
Justice Nkeonye Maha’s granted an application Metuh’s team of lawyers led by Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, brought to give effect to the November 16 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which quashed the conviction and seven-year jail term that was earlier handed to their client by the trial court.
Metuh’s surety must be an owner of landed property within the jurisdiction of the court that is worth the bail sum.
Justice Maha said she was ready to sign a release warrant addressed to the Superintendent of Nigeria Correctional Service, Kuje, once the bail conditions were perfected.
“That registry of this court shall verify the property/properties with the address of the surety and depose to an affidavit of same.
“That original title deeds of the property/properties shall be deposited in the registry of this honourable court.
“That surety shall depose to an affidavit of means and submit recent passport of himself/herself for record purpose,” the court held.
Besides, Justice Maha granted Metuh’s request for permission to travel outside the jurisdiction of the court for 45 days.
The court ordered the conditional release of Metuh’s international passport from the court registry, as soon as the bail conditions were fulfilled.
“That applicant must immediately hand over his international passport to the Assistant Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court within three days from the date of his return.
“That lead senior counsel to the applicant will file an undertaking to ensure the return of the applicant’s international passport, in line with the above orders of the court”.
Metuh had in his application, prayed the court to abridge time and hear his bail application within its vacation period.
He specifically applied for: “An order granting leave to the applicant to bring this application, judgment having been delivered by the Court of Appeal nullifying the judgment of the Federal High Court on which the applicant is being detained in the charge.
“An order directing the release of the applicant from the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Kuje, Abuja. pending when he is re-arraigned before a court of law.
“An order directing that the applicant’s international passport be conditionally released to him to enable him to visit his family residing in London upon his release”.
As well as, “An order directing that until a condition for bail is made upon his re-arraignment, the applicant shall be at liberty to travel in order to see his family for intermittent periods of two months”.
It will be recalled that the appellate court had in its judgment nullified Metuh’s conviction and sentence on the premise that the trial Judge exhibited elements of bias in his verdict.
The appellate court held that the trial Judge made disparaging remarks in the judgment that betrayed his premeditated mindset against the Metuh whom he accused of writing various petitions against him.
In its lead verdict that was delivered by Justice Stephen Adah, the appellant court said it was convinced that Metuh and his firm, Destra Investment Limited, which was the 2nd Defendant in the money laundering charge that was filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, were denied fair hearing by the trial court.
It held that allowing the trial court’s verdict against the Defendants to stand “will set a dangerous precedent”, stressing that in criminal cases, “justice must not only be done but should manifestly be seen to have been done”.
The appellate court, therefore, ordered the retrial of the Defendants by another judge of the high court.