You can’t travel now, court tells Metuh

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Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday rejected an application by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Olisa Metuh for the release of his international passport to enable him travel to the United Kingdom (UK) on medical ground.

The judge, in a ruling, held that his court was without jurisdiction to, on its own, vary its earlier order directing Metuh to deposit his international passport with the court’s registrar for the duration of the trial.

Justice Abang said, since Meuh did not appeal the order of the court, asking him to submit his passport to the court, the order still subsists, until a suprior court directs otherwise.

“The law is settled and required no restatement that, when a court has made an order, the court lacks jurisdiction to set aside the order or vary the order,” the judge said.

Justice Abang was of the view that Metuh could not ask for the release of his passport as of right without placing sufficient materials before the court.

“This is not a sentimental issue. This is not the issue of sympathy. It is purely an issue of law. Chief Olisa Metuh cannot casually apply for the release of his passport as of right.

“Chief Olisa Metuh filed the application as if it a simple matter. It is not a simple matter.

“The first defendant did not, even in his application, pray the court for bail variation. The first defendant did not ask for an order for the court to vary its order. The first defendant only asked for the release of his passport as of right. This is an impossibility.

“Except that order is set aside on appeal, the first defendant will not have access to his passport during the pendency of his trial.

“The court is not a Father Christmas. The court cannot give to the first defendant what he did not ask for even if the court is inclined to bend backwards for the sake of humanity.

“I want to remind parties that proceedings before a court is not based on sentiment. Don’t file a motion out of emotion. Look at the law.

“Therefore prayer 2 by Chief Olisa Metuh asking for the release of his passport lacks merit. It is a nullity and ought not to have been sought for in this court,” Justice Abang said.

He noted that Metuh failed to provide  evidence to prove that his ailment, which he claimed is spinal cord-related, and for which he intended to visit the London Royal Hospital, cannot be treated in any of the nation’s teaching hospitals.

The judge said although he could not fault the medical report signed by a doctor at the National Hospital Abuja, Dr. Charles Okechukwu Ugwuanyi, recommending Metuh for treatment in London, it did not indicate that the ailment could not be treated in Nigeria.

Justice Abang said, since the prosecution has expressed fear that Metuh may jump bail, there was the need for the court to be “careful in deciding such complex application. What the court needs to do is to balance the conflicting rights of parties”.

Justice Abang noted  that the further affidavit filed by Metuh in support of his application was neither dated nor deposed to before the court’s commissioner for oath.

He said since affidavit was incompetent, the court ignored all facts deposed to in the further affidavit in arriving at its decision.

The judge ruled that having refused prayer 2, it would be of no moment to grant prayer 1 which sought the court’s leave to enable Metuh to travel abroad for the treatment.

“The first defendant is asking the court to set aside the court order made on January 16, 2016, directing him to deposit his passport with the Chief Registrar of the Court.

“This is a legal impossibility. This court has no jurisdiction to do so except the appellate court,” the judge said.

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