The seventh prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, has explained how the N400 million transferred to the latter was allegedly expended.
Mr. Richard Ihediwa told the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, that out of the amount said to have been given to Metuh, N21 million was spent to acquire media intervention centre, where journalistic and advocacy works were carried out.
According to him, the money was paid through the account of Chief Tony Anenih, and that though the property located in Asokoro area of Abuja did not belong to the latter, he, however, assisted the team in securing it.
“The amount covered the cost of hiring the structure, pool vehicles as well as security gadgets at the centre.”
The witness said members of staff of the centre were converted to work for the team.
The witness, led in evidence by the counsel to the first defendant, Chief Emeka Etiaba (SAN), also told Justice Okon Abang’s court that there were groups co-ordinated by government functionaries, including the late Oronto Douglas and Malam Abbah Dabo, for the same advocacy.
While he was not very certain about how much money was released to the late Douglas, he said the sum of N25 million was however given to Dabo in line with alleged directives of former President Goodluck Jonathan as mobilisation for advocacy groups they co-ordinated.
Narrating the circumstances leading to the alleged transfer of the said N400 million to Metuh, Ihediwa said, among others: “When it came to the turn of our team to make presentation before the former President and other top government functionaries in a meeting conveyed by him, the lead consultant, Yomi Badejo, was called upon and he reviewed the issues raised by the former President regarding the worries of the government over tension in the polity across the country.
“At that time, there was tension in the six geo-political zones of the country. In the South-South, there was problem of agitations for resource control and militancy issues.
“In the South-East, there were issues of kidnapping, and a section of the citizenry was also agitating for self-determination.
“In the South-West, there was an issue of demand for the implementation of the National conference reports. Some leaders from the region were already agitating for self-determination for the region.
“In the North, there was problem of insurgency in the North-East and that of religious crises in other parts of the region. On the whole, the stability of the nation was at stake. There were also perceptions in some sections of the country that the problem was because of certain things the government did or did not do at that time.
“So, the lead consultant reviewed these issues and went ahead to state the strategies the team was presenting as solution. It was an elaborate presentation.
“It showed that intervention in terms of advocacy and assuring the citizens on the fact that government was doing a lot to protect lives and property was urgently needed.”
According to him, at the end of the presentation, those at the meeting reached a consensus that Metuh’s team was in the best position to handle the intervention.
The trial was adjourned till November 15 and 16 .