What is subpoena as issued by the Federal High Court Abuja compelling the former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to appear before the court to testify as a witness in the ongoing trial of former National Publicity Secretary of Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh ? Subpoena is a writ issued by a government agency, tribunals and most often a court, to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. However subpoena can be of two types. Viz:
- Subpoena ad testificandum orders a person to testify before the ordering authority or face punishment. The subpoena can also request the testimony to be given by phone or in person.
- Subpoena duces tecum orders a person or organization to bring physical evidence before the ordering authority or face punishment. This is often used for requests to mail copies of documents to the requesting party or directly to court.
The question going on now is that: must Jonathan appear before the court or has discretion whether to honour or dishonour the court’s order?
Well with the examination and the nature of Subpoena i.e court order, it is a must for him to honour the request and appear before the court, irrespective of the status as Law is a being above , more powerful and superior to individual or organization
However, as it’s trite that “right is for all” with the provision of Section 241(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015(ACJA), he has the right to state the condition that will materialize his appearance.
Also imperative that the request of witness needed by the Olisa Metuh might tint the witness fundamental rights under section 37: personal right to privacy, and family life.
Under this note, it is absolute legal and right for the former president to make the kind of demand he made from Chief Olisa Metuh, requesting N1bn naira for his expenses from Bayelsa to Abuja for his appearance but humbly to say it sound morally wrong.