If nothing else, former publicity secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisah Metuh was known for being outspoken against the then opposition party, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC).
He had come into prominence during Goodluck Jonathan’s reign as President, and was always on hand to defend the approach of the Jonathan government to the challenging situations confronting the government.
With the loss of PDP in the 2015 election, however, Metuh parted ways with his bubbly mien, having been arraigned for allegedly collecting N400 million from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, who was alleged to have masterminded the misappropriation of more than $2 billion funds meant for the purchase of arms to fight Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast.
Metuh’s efforts to prevent his prosecution on the basis of a no-case submission before the court were fruitless. But no sooner had his trial commenced than his sound health suddenly collapsed. He was either placed on stretcher or reclined on wheelchair each time he had his day in court, cutting the sight of a dying man.
On one occasion, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, had ordered Metuh to appear or risk being arrested. Metuh’s counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN), however, hinged the PDP chieftain’s absence in court on his failing health and admission at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi.
On March 14, Metuh sought the permission of the court to undergo urgent medical care in the United Kingdom, claiming that he had suffered a spinal cord-related ailment and lost sensation in his lower limbs. He pleaded passionately for the return of his international passport to enable him seek treatment abroad.
Doubting Metuh’s ill-health alibi for oversea medical trip on April 19, Justice Abang said: “I am wondering if the defendant is really sick as he claims. Why did he not appeal the two earlier decisions of the court that refused to release his international passport? I doubt that he is really ill as he wants the court to believe. If he is, he should have appealed the decisions of the court at the Court of Appeal.
“The issues raised in this application have already been determined in the two previous rulings on the matter. There is nothing new in this application.”
His later appearance in court on May 21 caused a pandemonium as he slumped on his way to the dock for continuation of his trial. But Justice Abang, unperturbed by the development, insisted on proceeding with Metuh’s trial while the latter remained on the floor. Angered by the judge’s decision, Metuh’s team of lawyers, led by Mr. Emeka Etiaba, SAN, pulled out of the case.
Curiously, the failing health of the embattled former National Publicity Secretary of PDP witnessed a rebound last week after he visited the home of Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu on July 24 in the wake of an alleged siege to Ekweremadu’s residence by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
At Ekweremadu’s home, Metuh was seen looking vibrant and excited. He was neither wheeled nor lay on a stretcher as he laughed heartily and exchanged banter with his party members and senators. The photograph of his visit, which later went viral on the social media, was greeted with anger and knocks from Nigerians.
In a flurry of tweets and reactions on online news platforms, some furious Nigerians trolled him for allegedly stage-managing his ill-health to curry sympathy in court.
In a message on his Twitter handle, @ Arowolo_85, one Arowolo Olusegun queried: ‘’Olisa Metuh no longer sick? No neck collar?
“Olisametu has recovered from his spinal cord injury?” asked another Twitter user, @Ibrahim30031265
Also reacting, a curious Ufuosman said in pidgin English: “When him hear court now, him stroke go come back.’’
Bigtt76 wrote: “Neck gauge only comes to work when it’s time to appear in court grin cheesy.”
Reacting, a respondent, identified simply as Michlins, said: “When his case is mentioned, let him not come to hospital and faint.”
Another commentator with the name Bodexman said: “We all know he’s acting a script. Once he hear COURT now, he will faint, no matter what he’s doing at that moment.”