How Metuh spent N171m for Jonathan’s image laundering – witness tells court

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday heard how PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, spent N171 million to launder ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s image ahead of the 2015 elections.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Metuh is standing trial on allegation of embezzling N400 million.

In his testimony before Justice Okon Abang, Richard Ihediwa, the fifth defence witness, told the court that Metuh spent N171 million on the committee for the image laundering exercise.

Ihediwa said N140 million was spent on various groups coordinated by aides to the former President while N31 million was disbursed for advertorials in several newspapers.

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“Various aides to former president helped to coordinate groups that worked across the country with regards to boosting his image towards the 2015 Presidential Election.

“There were many aides to Jonathan who coordinated those groups and they belonged mostly to the media and publicity, strategy, research and documentation departments.

“In the light of this, Metuh made a lot of payments to these groups coordinated by Presidential Aides and they received N140 million,” he said.

He, however, said the payments were made in line with Jonathan’s directives, adding that Metuh never used discretionary powers to disburse the funds.

“There was also a bill of N31 million for advertorial for the media, using representatives of media houses reporting the beat.

“Metuh made the payment through me. I received the payment through my Access Bank account and consequently paid all the media houses.

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“Some payments were made through transfers while others were made in cash,” the witness said.

Ihediwa said the issue of image laundering for the former president was raised at the meeting of PDP stakeholders and Metuh was assigned the responsibility.

“The issue of his image was very important to him because of that election. So, the major mandate given to the team led by Metuh was to find ways to improve on Jonathan’s standing using the media.

“The fact is that the fund spent was not taken from government treasury as alleged.

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“I am aware funds were raised and domiciled with the former president. At that time, the Fund Raising Committee headed by Professor

Jerry Gana had started working and they held a fund raising dinner,” he said.

The presiding judge however, adjourned the case till Nov. 16 for continuation.

Metuh, who is facing a seven-count charge, was also accused of illegal 200,000 US dollars transaction.

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