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Defense Lawyers seek Nigeria’s former president as witness in corruption case

Photo: Former President Jonathan makes remarks to President Buhari during a presentation of a handover notes

WEST AFRICA – Defense lawyers in a corruption case in Nigeria have informed a court that they would seek the testimony of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan in the case involving a former spokesman for the ex-president’s party.

President Jonathan’s former ally, Olisa Metuh, is being tried on charges of fraudulently receiving some 400 million nairas ($1.1 million, 945,000 euros) from the then-national security advisor Sambo Dasuki.

Court documents say the funds were allegedly used to support former President Jonathan’s failed re-election campaign for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015. which he lost to incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari.

Onyechi Ikpeazu, Metuh’s lawyer, has applied for Dasuki to appear as a defense witness and suggested he would request the same for Jonathan.

“The other witness we want to subpoena is Goodluck Jonathan, former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he told the Federal High Court in Abuja.

“We wrote him a letter but he did not respond and our plan will be to apply for subpoena after the first application (which compels Dasuki to appear as a witness).”

In an unrelated development, Dasuki is on trial in a separate case in which he is accused of illegally diverting about $2 billion in defense budget intended to equip Nigeria’s military against Boko Haram jihadists.

Prosecutors say Dasuki allegedly sent the money to prominent PDP figures.

Courts records say Dasuki has said ex-President Jonathan was aware of the alleged “arms scam.”

Metuh’s lawyer is also claiming his client, too, acting on former President Jonathan’s orders.

Ahmed Raji, Dasuki’s lawyer, said in January 2016: “You cannot talk about this matter without talking about President Jonathan.”

The PDP is accusing President Buhari of carrying out a witch-hunt since most of those accused and charged for corruption are senior PDP figures from the previous administration.

They include Jonathan’s wife Patience and cousin Robert Azibaola. His former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is currently on bail in London as part of an international corruption inquiry.

During the 2015 election, Jonathan was applauded for conceding to then opposition candidate Buhari who has since embarked on his promised anti-corruption campaign even though he (Buhari) had vowed not to settle any political scores.

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.

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