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Former president a no-show at Nigeria corruption trial

By AFP

Added 25th October 2017 04:37 PM

Judge Abang Okon, sitting at the Federal High Court in Abuja, signed a summons on Tuesday after lawyers for Olisa Metuh said they wanted to question him in court.

Former president a no-show at Nigeria corruption trial

Nigeria's former president Goodluck Jonathan. Photo/AFP

Judge Abang Okon, sitting at the Federal High Court in Abuja, signed a summons on Tuesday after lawyers for Olisa Metuh said they wanted to question him in court.

Nigeria's former president Goodluck Jonathan failed to show up in court on Wednesday, after a judge ruled that he should be called as a witness in a high-profile corruption trial. 

Judge Abang Okon, sitting at the Federal High Court in Abuja, signed a summons on Tuesday after lawyers for Olisa Metuh said they wanted to question him in court.

Metuh is accused of having fraudulently received 400 million naira ($1.1 million, 945,000 euros) from Jonathan's former national security advisor, Sambo Dasuki.

The money was allegedly diverted from funds meant to procure weapons and equipment for the fight against Boko Haram and was used to fund Jonathan's failed re-election bid in 2015.

Judge Okon told the court that Jonathan 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."

Proceedings were adjourned until October 31.

Metuh, a former spokesman for Jonathan's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), maintains he received the money on the orders of the president.

Dasuki, whom he has also called as a witness, similarly claims Jonathan was aware of the payments. The former army colonel is being tried separately on corruption charges.

Jonathan was beaten at the 2015 elections by Muhammadu Buhari, who has since embarked on an anti-corruption campaign to try to end endemic graft in government and public service.

He promised not to settle political scores but has been accused of conducting a witch hunt because most cases involve senior PDP figures from the former administration.

They include Jonathan's wife, Patience, and his cousin, Robert Azibaola. 

His former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, is currently on bail in London as part of an international corruption inquiry.

Jonathan's name has cropped up in a number of investigations but it is not thought he has been formally questioned.

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