The trial of Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Friday proceeded in his absence.
It is the second time Metuh will be absent in court due to ill health and the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, has insisted that the case will continue despite his absence.
As the trial commenced, the prosecutor stated in his submission that more than 40 minutes after, no single lawyer had appeared on behalf of the defendant neither was there any letter to explain their whereabouts.
He also noted that the absence of Metuh’s counsel is willful because even if there was a letter, it ought to have come three days before today’s trial commenced, and as such the proceedings should continue as scheduled.
But in his submission, Owugbufor (counsel to the second defendant) which is Metuh’s company, said he is aware of section 349 subsection 2, which according to him, states that where a defence lawyer is absent from court after two adjournments, the court shall ask the defendant if he wishes to keep engaging such a lawyer.
He further stated that if he then wishes to get a new counsel, the court ought to give him (the defendant) a period of 30 days to engage another counsel of his choice.
He also referred the court to subsection 4 which states that where a defendant is unable to get a lawyer the court shall make provision of a lawyer by way of legal aid for the defendant.
Owugbufor, therefore, argued that the application of the prosecutor is premature and should be dismissed or if the court wishes, it can be struck out until when the court considers the law.
The judge, however, maintained that the trial would go on despite Metuh’s absence.