The trial of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Olisa Metuh continued Thursday at the Federal High Court Abuja with the 5th Defence Witness, Mr. Richard Ihediwa telling the court that Metuh spent the N400 million released to him by former President Goodluck Jonathan strictly on the directive of the ex-president.
Ihediwa said Jonathan released the N400 million to Metuh following a presentation Metuh made to him alongside other groups on ways to douse the tension in the country ahead of the 2015 general elections as demanded by the ex-president. He said the president was concerned about the situation in the country including issues of militancy and agitation for resource control in the south south, kidnapping and agitation for self determination in the south east, agitation for the implementation of the report of the national conference and self determination in the south west as well as insurgency and religious clashes in the northern states and wanted a workable intervention ahead of the elections.
The witness said in accepting Metuh’s presentation, the former President however directed that other groups that made presentation should collapse into that of Metuh for the implementation of some components in their presentation, which he approved. He said the president thereupon requested Metuh to give him a corporate account number to channel the fund to him and that the other groups should get the funds for their components through Metuh. The witness said some days later the former President called Metuh on phone to inform him that he has made available the money to him to commence the assignment.
The former president remained in touch with Metuh. He said since the assignment has nothing to do with the PDP but for the presidency, the team had to acquire a center in Asokoro for its operations. He said the center which was acquired through Chief Tony Anenih at the cost of N21 million was fully equipped with state of the art gadgets, communication equipment, generator set, a library, a research center, functional offices, pool vehicles and regular staff and security, and was used by the team through out the duration of the project.
The witness told the court that the team thereafter hired professionals including two university professors, an economist, a security expert and some media experts who worked in the center. He said the center had very expensive gadgets that enabled the team monitor the situation across the country to make informed decisions for its intervention. Ihediwa further told the court that following the approval of the former President, Metuh mobilized the lead consultant, Yomi Badejo of CMC Connect who handled the driving of advocacy materials in the print and electronic media, through which the team assured Nigerians of the unity of the nation and the capacity of the military in the fight against insurgency.
He said the advocacy was necessary given the fears by many that the 2015 election would be marred by violence and that the nation would disintegrate by 2015. The witness who was being led in evidence by Defence Counsel, Emeka Etiaba SAN further told the court that for effectiveness, the team brought on board zonal and states coordinators. He said the coordinators were trained in Ibeto Hotel, Abuja after which they were deployed to their respective zones and states.
He further told the court that in line with the directive of the former President that Metuh should incorporate some important components from the presentation of the other teams, some aides of the President were detailed by the ex-president to coordinate some groups and funds for those groups were channeled through them. Asked who were the said aides of the former President, the witness said they were many but that he could remember, the former Special Adviser to the President on Strategy, Documentation and Research, late Oronto Douglas as well as a former aide to the Vice President, Mallam Abba Dabo.
While he stated that the sum of N25 million was routed through Mallam Abba Dabo to coordinate some of the groups, he said he was not sure of how much was routed through Douglas but averred that monies were routed through aides of the president to coordinate several groups in line with the directives of the former President. The case was adjourned to November 15 for continuation of trial.