A Federal High Court Abuja yesterday dismissed an application by Olisa Metuh seeking to abridge time for the hearing of his fundamental rights enforcement suit.
Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is being detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over alleged involvement in a $2.1billion arms fund scandal.
His lawyer, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, filed the suit to challenge the continuous detention of his client without a formal charge.
At the hearing of the suit, Adedipe made an oral application for abridge of time to expedite hearing of the substantive suit.He said his client was arrested on Jan.5 and the EFCC has been holding him without the leave of Court. Adedipe said that Metuh’s rights are being violated without recourse to the extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
He urged the court to stand the case down till 2pm to allow EFCC filed its reply. EFCC lawyer, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, opposed the application.
“My Lord, we are opposed to the ingenuity of the counsel to the applicant to deny us fair hearing.
We were just served with the process this morning, so standing the matter down till 2p.m. as prayed will be most unfair. I urge the Court to dismiss such attempt and allow us the benefit of the five days allowed by the rules of the Court to file our response,’’ Jacob said.
In a short ruling, Justice Abang Okon held that the rules of the court do not allow for such benefit as requested by the applicant.
“The substantive application for the enforcement of fundamental rights was filed by the applicant on Jan.8.
The suit was assigned to this Court on Jan.12 and the respondent was served on Jan.13. We are always guided by the rules of the Court, and therefore, the respondent deserves the right to a mandatory five days within which to file response.
“In the light of this, the prayer for the abridgment of time in order to hear the substantive application today is hereby dismissed.
“The respondent is given up to Jan.19 to file response. The matter is hereby adjourned till Jan. 20 for hearing,’’ Okon held.
The judge, however, said that the applicant’s prayer might have been considered if the respondent was not opposed to it.
Speaking to newsmen after the session, Jacob said the EFCC has not violated the rights of Metuh and he would soon be arraigned.
“Already, a formal charge has been filed against Metuh and he will soon be arraigned. On the backdrop of public criticisms, Metuh is held in detention up till now on the strength of a leave of Court. We believe in the rule of law and interplay of justice,’’ he said.
On his part, Adedipe insisted that the EFCC is holding his client without the leave of Court.

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