Graft case defence wants Nigeria's former president as witness

2017-10-24 08:25
President Goodluck Jonathan. (File, AP)

President Goodluck Jonathan. (File, AP)

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Abuja- Nigeria's former president Goodluck Jonathan has been asked to testify at the corruption trial of his party's former spokesperson, a court was told on Monday.

Olisa Metuh is being tried on charges of having fraudulently received some $1.1m from the then-national security advisor Sambo Dasuki.

The money was allegedly used to fund Jonathan's failed re-election campaign for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015, which he lost to Muhammadu Buhari.

Metuh's lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, has already successfully applied for Dasuki to appear as a defence witness and said he would do the same for Jonathan.

"The other witness we want to subpoena is Goodluck Jonathan, former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," he told the Federal High Court in Abuja.

"We wrote him a letter but he did not respond and our plan will be to apply for subpoena after the first application (which compels Dasuki to appear as a witness)."

Dasuki is on trial in a separate case, accused of illegally diverting some $2bn in defence funds meant to equip Nigeria's military against Boko Haram jihadists.

The money is alleged to have been sent to prominent PDP figures.

Dasuki has said Jonathan was aware of the alleged "arms scam". Metuh's lawyer said his client, too, was only acting on Jonathan's orders.

Ikpeazu has called the former president "an indispensable witness" and said Metuh should be acquitted if he is not called to the stand.

"We are saying the failure to investigate what really amounts to an alibi is fatal to (the prosecution) case," Ikpeazu told AFP early last year.

Dasuki's lawyer, Ahmed Raji, said in January 2016: "You cannot talk about this matter without talking about President Jonathan."

Jonathan was lauded for conceding the 2015 election and as Buhari embarked on his promised anti-corruption campaign, the new president vowed not to settle any political scores.

But the PDP has accused Buhari of conducting a witchhunt as most of those implicated in anti-corruption cases are senior PDP figures from the previous administration.

They include Jonathan's wife Patience, and cousin Robert Azibaola. His former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, is currently on bail in London as part of an international corruption enquiry.

Jonathan has previously indicated he was prepared to be questioned but declined to comment further, citing concerns about prejudicing ongoing trials.

Read more on:    muhammadu buhari  |  goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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