Judge warns over failure to produce Dasuki in court
From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Irked by the consistent non-production of former National Security Adviser (NSA)to former president Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki, in court for trial, a Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, on Wednesday, warned the Department of State Security Service (DSS) not to take the trial lightly.
Justice Baba-Yusuf who was visible levied by the conduct of the secret police forcibly adjourned the case to July 10, 11 and 12 at the instance of the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).
Justice Baba-Yusuf asked the prosecuting counsel to contact all relevant agencies of government to ensure that Dasuki was produced in court on the next trial dates.
Dasuki is standing trial on charges of alleged diversion of funds meant for procurement of arms.
Lamenting the development, the Judge warned that the trial should not be taken lightly.
“I only want to say that the proceedings of the court should not be taken lightly. “Extraneous considerations must not be allowed to interfere with course of justice.” The judge ruled.
Earlier, the prosecution counsel, Jacobs, said the DSS’ Director of Legal attributed the failure of the agency to produce the ex-NSA in court earlier on Tuesday to an “oversight”.
He further explained that after he discovered that the ex-NSA had not been produced in court at the scheduled time on Wednesday, the EFCC contacted the DSS, which blamed it on the unwillingness of Dasuki to attend court because he was indisposed.
Jacobs said, “I contacted the Director of Legal of DSS to explain the absence of the first defendant in court yesterday (Tuesday).
“He (the Director of Legal) told me it was an oversight and that the first defendant would be produced this morning (Wednesday).
“I made series of efforts when I discovered he was not yet in court this morning, but I was unable to contact the DSS.
“I immediately contacted my client, the EFCC, for them to approach the DSS.
“My client later told me that the first defendant said he was indisposed and would not come to court.
“On the account of that, I will be asking for an adjournment.”
But responding, counsel to Dasuki, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), said he had no objection to the prosecutor’s application for an adjournment even as he described the situation as “an inter-departmental issue”.
He further stated that the situation has further highlighted the state of powerlessness of the court that a defendant granted bail by the court was unable to enjoy the bail.
Daudu said, “From all that the prosecuting counsel has said, it is an inter-departmental issue.
“I think this highlights the powerlessness of the court; the court granted him bail which he has not been allowed to enjoy.”
Another defence lawyer in the case, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), described as “irritating” the excuse of an oversight given by the agency as the reason for the failure to produce the ex-NSA in court earlier on Tuesday.
While not opposing the request for adjournment, Olujinmi asked the judge should direct the DSS to produce Dasuki in court on the next trial date.
He said, “I also want to put it on record that we have been coming to court ready for trial; it is the prosecution that has not been allowing the trial to proceed.
“My lord, quite honestly, I find it irritating that somebody said their failure to produce the first defendant in court was an oversight.
“If they elected to keep him, they have the duty to ensure that they keep track of the dates of trial in court and they cannot say their failure to produce him was an oversight without any apology rendered to the court.
“I find myself in a position that I cannot oppose the application for an adjournment.
“But I pray to your lordship to direct that those keeping the first defendant in custody should be alive to their responsibility by producing the first defendant in court at the next date.”
Other defence lawyers – Messrs Felix Abiodun (who was later led by Mr. Solomon Umoh, SAN, before the court adjourned), O.I Arase and A.O Ayodele – also said they had no objection to the application for adjournment.
He has been in detention since December 2015, and Wednesday was about the umpteenth time when the failure of the agency to produce him in court would stall the two pending cases instituted against him by the EFCC.
The EFCC preferred against Dasuki and four others before the court presided over Justice Baba-Yusuf 19 counts in which the defendants were accused of diverting about N32bn meant for arms procurement.
Others standing trial alongside the ex- NSA are a former Director of Finance and Administration in the office of NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Aminu Baba-Kusa.
Two companies belonging to Baba-Kusa companies – Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited – are also part of the defendants.
Also pending before Justice Baba-Yusuf is another EFCC’s case of 22 counts of diversion of N13bn meant for arms procurement preferred against Dasuki, Salisu, and others, including former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa.
The case involving the alleged diversion of N32bn was scheduled to come up on Tuesday, but while the other defendants in the case were in court, the DSS did not produce Dasuki.