Money laundering: Metuh jailed 36yrs

ONE-TIME spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Olisa Metuh was on Tuesday sentenced to 36 years in prison for money laundering.

Justice Okon Abang of the federal high court found him guilty of the seven counts. The judgment ended the four-year dramatic trial which appeared stalled at some point.

Besides the jail term, Metuh was fined N375 million and his company, Dextra Investment Limited, fined N25 million. Dextra is to be wound up and all its assets transferred to the Federal Government, the judge ruled.

Part of the count is fraudulent receipt of N400 million  from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in   November 2014   for  PDP’s electioneering  and  personal purposes.

Metuh was also found guilty of carrying out cash transaction to the tune of $2m without  a bank or any legal financial institution.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed the charges against the politician.

Shortly before Justice Abang read the judgment, Metuh sought permission to use the bathroom. His wish was granted.

In the judgment that lasted about six hours, Justice Abang held that the prosecution was able to establish the ingredients of guilt in all the seven counts in the charge against the defendants and accordingly convicted them.

In relation to the money laundering charge, the judge stated that the prosecution successfully proved that the transaction violated the anti-money laundering law which puts  the maximum cash   an individual can undertake outside a financial institution  at N5 million.

Abang held that Metuh and his firm reasonably ought to have known that the sum of N400 million paid to them formed part of the proceeds of the unlawful activity of the ex-NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki(rtd),  because they had no form of a contractual relationship with the ONSA.

He held that Dasuki transferred the money to the defendants “in breach of public trust.” The judge rejected the defence counsel –  Abel Oziokor and Chief Tochukwu Onwugbufo –  argument that their  clients  could not be convicted for the money laundering because Dasuki, who is currently being prosecuted, had yet to be convicted for the predicate offence of breach of trust and corruption.

Justice Abang held that contrary to the defence’s contention “the predicate offence and the money laundering offence are intertwined.

“The success or failure of the predicate offence does not determine the success or failures of the money laundering offence,” he said.

The judge proceeded to sentence Metuh to seven-year imprisonment on counts 1, 2, 4 and 7; five-year imprisonment on count 3; and three-year in respect of counts 5 and 6.

The judge also, ordered the defendants to pay  a fine of N25 million in relation to count 5 and  N25 million fine for count six.

Justice Abang directed that the sentences shall run concurrently, meaning that Metuh will only spend the highest number of years of jail term, which is seven, in prison.

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