Embattled National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, failed to appear in court on Wednesday, for the commencement of his trial on the 19-count money laundering charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against him and four others.
The anti-graft agency had in the charge it filed before an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, alleged that Dasuki connived with the erstwhile Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu and a former Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Aminu Baba-Kusa, and diverted public funds to the tune of N32billion.
The EFCC had alleged that the N32bn was distributed to delegates that attended the Presidential Primary Election the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held in Abuja, a process that saw the emergence of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan as the sole candidate of the party.
Trial Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf had on February 8, okayed full-blown hearing to commence on the matter but at the resumption of trial on Wednesday, the prosecutor failed to produce Dasuki.
EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that the former NSA who has been in detention since November 3, 2015, refused to be brought to court. “My lord, yesterday (Tuesday) the 1st defendant was notified that this matter will come up today (Wednesday) for hearing and that he should prepare. However, this morning, the 1st defendant refused to come to court on the ground that his lead counsels Mr. J. B. Daudu, SAN, and Ahmed Raji, SAN, will not be in court.
“We persuaded him to at least come to court first but he refused and insisted that he cannot be abducted. He said that nobody can ad but and bring him to court”, Rotimi added.
He argued that section 267(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, allows the court to commence hearing on a case against a defendant who is not in custody, so far such person is permitted to have unfettered access to his lawyers.
“I asked the DSS whether any of his counsels ever made any attempt to see him and they said none of his lawyers ever did. My lord I submit that it is not the law that once a defendant is in custody his trial cannot go on. That is the misconception that the defendant has been given out.
“This recent action is a deliberate game-plan by the defendant and his counsel to ensure that this trial does not go on today. My witnesses are here and ready to testify. The blatant refusal by the defendant to appear in court amounts to misconduct”, Jacobs insisted. Nevertheless, the lawyer who announced appearance for Dasuki, Mr. Wale Balogun, told the court that he was not aware of any of the allegations the prosecution raised against his client. He contended that the onus was on the prosecution to produce the defendant who has been in its custody, in court for trial. ”We are not in custody of the 1st defendant, they are the ones that have him in custody.
We are not ordinarily allowed to see him, so there is no way we can confirm all the allegations. “It is elementary requirement of law that the defendant must be present during his trial, the prosecution has not made any application for his presence to be excused.
The allegation the prosecution raised are very serious. He said someone told him, that DSS officer ought to have deposed an affidavit. “The learned silk cannot give evidence from the bar. His allegations should have been supported by an affidavit duly deposed before this court”,
Balogun argued. Similarly, counsel to the other defendants agreed with Dasuki’s lawyer that EFCC ought to have backed the allegations with an affidavit evidence.
The judge, therefore agreed with the defence counsel on the need to adjourned the case. Consequently, Justice Baba Yusuf adjourned the matter till April 6, 2016 for the prosecution to produce the defendant in court.