Ike Abonyi, journalist and media adviser to Okwesilieze Nwodo, former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairman, on Monday told a court that Reuben Abati did not tell Goodluck Jonathan, former president, the truth about his public image.
Abonyi, who was testifying in the trial of Olisa Metuh, spokesman of the PDP, before Justice Okon Abang of the federal high court, Abuja narrated how the president consulted Metuh for publicity campaigns ahead of the 2015 general election.
“Dr Nwodo hired a consulting firm called CNC-Connect to work on the image of the party. Since Metuh was part of Nwodo’s team he also came in contact with CNC-Connect,” he explained.
“Mr Yomi Badejo came with his team who met with Chief Metuh and some officials of the publicity directorate. Metuh agreed with the consulting firm that he would want them to return to continue from where they stopped when Dr Nwodo was there.
“The consulting firm said that they were willing to return, but the party was owing them. Metuh promised to make a case for them. Following their presentation at that meeting, Metuh told them that there were no resources to pay them, and promised to get back to them if he geot resources from the party.
“Virtually, once the general election of 2015 was near, Metuh approached me when I was the deputy director of New Telegraph newspaper, and requested that he would need my services at the time. And that he would like if I could come into the party as a consultant to help him on a new challenge of improving the image of the party, which was in bad shape.
“All eyes were on him to come up with strategies to shore up the image of the party ahead of the forthcoming general election. That was the point I left New Telegraph to join him for the purpose of that challenge he mentioned. When I joined him he wanted us to call back CNC-Connect. He said the leader of the party, the then president, would have no choice but to fund the project.
“Chief Metuh told us that he had been given an assignment by the president to come up with strategies that would help win the general election. He told us the assignment was given to other professionals, that we should see it as a challenge and make sure that our strategy prevailed.
“At the villa, the president called us up. The MD of CNC-Connect did the presentation, and demonstrated most of the strategies we had in mind. After our presentation, the president said jokingly that we were too hard on him, because we made it clear to him that his image was in a bad shape.
“At a point Reuben Abati, who saw our presentation as an indictment campaign, told the president that the situation was not as bad as we tried to portray. But the president overruled it.
“After the presentation, the president asked for comments from those sitting with him, and most of the speakers made positive remarks by what they saw.”
Earlier, Justice Abang had dismissed an application for adjournment filed by a lawyer representing a company of Olisa Metuh, spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
When the case was called, Tochukwu Onwubufo, counsel to Destra Investment Limited, Metuh’s company and second defendant in the case, prayed the court for more time to make his defence.
“We urge your lordship to grant the second defendant adequate time to prepare its defence and to also enable him to source for adequate facilities for the same purpose,” he said.
In his argument, Sylvanus Tahir, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), asked the court to dismiss the application for being a waste of time.
Tahir said that the defence was regrettably dragging the case back.
Also, Emeka Etiaba, counsel to Metuh (first defendant), urged the court to consider the application for adjournment, but added that the defence was ready to open its case.