The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has dismissed the application filed by the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, asking for permission to travel abroad for his medical treatment.
The counsel to Mr. Metuh had on May 23 informed the court of an application dated May 16 seeking permission to allow Mr. Metuh travel to the United Kingdom for five weeks to attend to his failing health.
The counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, had also asked the court to permit the release of Mr. Metuh’s passport so that if the first application is granted, he (Mr. Metuh) would be able to travel for the proposed treatment of his ailing spinal cord.
The trial judge, Okon Abang, had on that day said the court would decide on Mr. Metuh’s application on May 25.
Mr. Abang had also asked both counsel on May 23 whether his court had the jurisdiction to grant the second application by Mr. Ikpeazu, seeking for the release of Mr. Metuh’s international passport.
After listening to the arguments of both counsel, Mr. Abang stated in his ruling, Wednesday, that the application seeking the release of Mr. Metuh’s international passport should not have come to his court in the first place.
He noted that the decision was made with regards to the nature of Mr. Metuh’s trial and that the court cannot hold back its decision.
Mr. Abang further said the present condition of the defendant should not be a reason for the law to be compromised.
“Proceedings in a court of law is not based on sentiments,” the judge said.
“The court cannot set aside its decision. I have no jurisdiction to do so.”
He added that since the court cannot grant Mr. Metuh his second prayer, there would be no need to consider the application for Mr. Metuh’s trip abroad.
“Having dismissed prayer two, it is not important to discuss the merits of prayer one,” Justice Abang said.
“Discussing prayer one amounts to an academic exercise.”
The judge said Mr. Metuh had the prerogative of approaching the Appeal Court to request for the release of his passport, adding that when the higher court decides on that, he would then have to consider the merits of the first application.
“In case I am overruled in Court of Appeal, with respect to prayer 2, I will still make findings with regard to prayer 1.
He said the medical report by Mr. Metuh’s doctor, Ugwanyi Ugochukwu, did not include any reason why Mr. Metuh cannot have his treatment done in Nigeria.
Although Mr. Abang noted that he would not argue with Mr. Ugochukwu regarding the said report, he would not agree that Mr. Metuh could not be treated in Nigeria if the applicant does not provide such evidence before the court.
“Their is no evidence brought forth by Mr. Metuh that none of the teaching hospitals in Nigeria can treat him of his sickness.
“We have so many teaching hospitals here that can treat such illness,” Mr. Abang said.
He said the court also had a duty to consider the rights of the prosecution.
“The prosecution has expressed fear that he will disappear. In a case like this; the court must be extremely careful. It must balance the competing rights of the defence, and that of the prosecution, before making its decision,” Mr. Abang held.
More to come…