The family of Olisa Metuh, former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says he is ready to return the “contentious” N400m, which was allegedly taken from the government’s purse.
Metuh is facing trial for alleged criminal breach of trust and money laundering at the federal high court, Abuja.
The family in a statement issued by Gilbert Metuh, its representative, said the former PDP spokesman had made overtures to the government to return the money.
However, it expressed displeasure that the government had refused to accept the “offer of refund.”
The family alleged that it was clear that the government had resolved to “persecute” Metuh, since it rejected his offer to return the money.
The Metuhs also cried out that the life of their son was in danger, and that he could end up paralysed if an urgent surgery is not done to correct his spinal cord problem.
“Nigerians are aware that of all the people who have been facing the predicament of having worked for either the PDP or the previous federal government, our son has been the only one that was brought to court in handcuffs, paraded as a common criminal and treated without any dignity whatsoever,” the statement read.
“May we also point out that since his arrest and even up to about a week ago, our son has made several overtures to the arresting authority for him to refund the money since they now claim in court that it came from government coffers. All efforts have been unsuccessful.
“It is instructive that out of over 300 names listed as having received money from the ONSA, all those who offered to refund money were not arraigned in court. Our son is the only one whose offer to refund money was rejected and has been arraigned in court and his case given accelerated hearing. On each trial date the hostility in the courtroom is palpable.
“As we speak to you the offer to refund the money to the federal government is still open and the government is yet to accept the offer. It is therefore clear to us that the intention is not the recovery of funds but a clear persecution of our son.
“Our son was diagnosed with a spinal cord problem in 2004. He has consistently managed it over this period. However, due to the treatments he received while in custody, the situation got aggravated. In the course of his trial, the situation deteriorated, especially after he fell at a meeting in the party office for which he was rushed to the National Hospital and was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit. Notwithstanding the grave medical condition, he still kept his court date the very next morning in spite of medical advice by the doctors. On another such occasion he vomited in court and had to be rushed back to the hospital where he is lying critically ill.
“Our concern now is that that our son should not be sentenced to a life in a wheel chair especially as we believe that the paramount interest of the authorities should rather be more on the recovery of funds. In this case, our son has from the onset shown his willingness to refund the money rather than dragging in other party members involved in the said assignment.
“Finally we want Nigerians to note that our son has never held any public office, has never worked for any arm of government and is not being charged for stealing and/or corrupt enrichment.”