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Former president AWOL at Nigeria’s corruption trial

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan

ABUJA, Nigeria – Goodluck Jonathan, the ex-president of Nigeria refused to show up in court on Wednesday after a judge ordered that he should be called as a witness in a high-sketch corruption trial.

From Abuja, a Federal High Court judge Abang Okon, signed a summons on Tuesday after lawyers for one of the ex-president’s former key official Olisa Metuh said they wanted to question him in court.

Metuh, a former top aide to President Jonathan is accused of fraudulently receiving 400 million nairas ($1.1 million, 945,000 euros) from the ex-president’s then former national security advisor, Sambo Dasuki.

The money was allegedly rerouted from funds meant to acquire weapons and equipment for the Nigeria’s military’s fight against Boko Haram and instead used to support Jonathan’s failed re-election bid in 2015.

As the absence of Jonathan became glaring, Federal High Court’s Judge Okon told the court that the former president was not present as he had not been served the summons.

“The court cannot apportion blame to him for his failure to be in court today,” he added, noting that bailiffs had only made one attempt to hand him the subpoena.

“One attempt in my view is not sufficient,” the judge said.

“The bailiff of the court is hereby given five days from today to effect personal service of the subpoena on His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan.

“Thereafter the law will take its course.” Hence, proceedings were adjourned until October 31. Reliable sources say Metuh, former President Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman, continues to espouse his innocence in the corruption case, saying he received the money on the orders of the former president.

For his part, Dasuki, the former national security advisor called as a witness, also maintains that the former president was fully aware of the fund’s transfer.

The former president was defeated in the 2015 elections by the opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari, who is engaged in an anti-corruption campaign to try to end systemic graft in public service.

Although President Buhari as an opposition had promised not to settle political scores but has been accused of carrying out a witch-hunt against the officials of Jonathan’s administration in corruption cases involving senior PDP figures including Jonathan’s wife, Patience, his cousin, Robert Azibaola, and his former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Meanwhile, the former president’s name has been mentioned in several investigations though he has not been formally questioned or reprimanded.

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Dave Okonjie

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