Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), Oyinyechi Ikpeazu and Emeka Etiaba, have asked to withdraw from representing a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, in his ongoing criminal trial.
Messrs Ikpeazu and Etiaba in a motion dated March 4 and filed March 5, told the court they are seeking the withdrawal because of external intimidation.
“Emeka Etiaba and myself (Mr Ikpeazu) have been going through immense pressure with respect to our appearance in this case and will be unable to continue to represent the first defendant.
“I have received numerous threats to my life from diverse sources through telephone calls with disguised numbers giving an ultimatum and threatening to kill me based on the manner they claimed I had been mishandling the case.
“Emeka Etiaba informed me on March 4 in my office at plot 10, block Ix, David Dodo street, Gwarinpa, Abuja and I verily believe him, that he had received similar threats and will thus no longer proceed with the representation of the first defendant.”
They did not say where the alleged threat was coming from. But the two lawyers also said the day to day nature of the trial has made it impossible for them to attend the hearing as frequently as they ought to.
“This honourable court has ordered a day to day hearing in this matter and counsel will be unable to afford the time, having regard to the diaries of their respective offices.”
The lawyers also said in the affidavit before the court that Mr Metuh has insisted on having them present at all his hearing.
“The first defendant is insistent that he will no longer tolerate the two senior counsel he briefed to fail or refuse to appear personally for the hearing of the case.
“In the circumstance, it is impossible to avail the first defendant the legal representation he deserves in this case.”
They also said in another paragraph of the affidavit that the people threatening them accused them of “mishandling the matter.”
The judge, Okon Abang, however, adjourned to March 13 for the argument of motion.
Mr Metuh is facing a seven-count charge before the Federal High Court of Abuja for alleged diversion of N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.