The trial of a former National Publicity of the Peoples Democratic, Olisa Metuh, proceeded before the Federal High Court in Abuja in his absence and that of his lawyers on Friday.
Metuh had, since his fall in court on Monday, been absent from the trial.
His lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), who had since been appearing for him, did not attend the Thursday and Friday proceedings without any explanation offered for his absence.
No lawyer in the defendant’s defence team led by Etiaba and another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, attended the Thursday and Friday proceedings.
Justice Okon Abang was forced to adjourn on Thursday due to the absence of legal representation for Metuh on Thursday.
But on Friday, the judge ordered the continuation of the trial after overruling an objection to the application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s lawyer, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir, for the trial to proceed in the absence of Metuh and his lawyers.
The objection was raised by Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), the counsel for Metuh’s co-accused, Destra Investment Limited, who had argued that the law never envisaged that a criminal trial would ever be conducted behind a defendant and his counsel.
But in dismissing the objection, Justice Abang ruled that although the court had ruled that the matter would proceed in Metuh’s absence, the absence of the defence team was designed to frustrate the trial.
The judge explained that the court did not bar Metuh from the proceedings but only held that “the trial will proceeding in his absence” due to what the court described as the defendant’s ”misconduct” in court on Monday.