Again, court adjourns as prosecutor fails to produce Dasuki for trial
A Federal Capital Territory High Court yesterday adjourned the trial of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki to May 23, 2016, for failure of the Federal Government to produce the accused in court for trial in corruption charges brought against him.
The trial was scuttled by the failure of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) to release Dasuki to the prosecuting Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) even though witnesses in the matter by the EFCC were present in court.
Col. Dasuki, Shuaibu Salisu, former Director of Finance of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and Aminu Baba-Kusa, a former Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Executive Director, were arraigned for alleged diversion of N13.6 billion meant for purchase arms.
The others are Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.At the commencement of the matter yesterday, counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe, informed the court that he had made serious efforts through the EFCC to contact the DSS to produce the first defendant in court and regretted that as at the sitting of the court, his efforts had not been successful.
He told Justice Baba Yusuf that there was no indication that the former NSA would be brought to court for the trial even though the witnesses were in court.
He also said that Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who was supposed to be the lead prosecution counsel, was at the Court of Appeal for a different matter and he has no direct link with the DSS.
Atolagbe therefore appealed that the matter be stood down pending the arrival of Mr. Jacobs in court, who was in the best position to shed more light on the absence of the first defendant (Dasuki).
Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), counsel to Salisu Shuaib (2nd defendant), said that the coming into court of Mr. Jacobs would be inconsequential in the absence of the first defendant.
Chief Olujimi, who is a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, told the court that the prosecution had failed to produce the defendant in court and ought to admit that and asked for adjournment.
The SAN said: “It is settled in law that trial cannot go ahead in the absence of the defendant.” He therefore prayed the judge to grant adjournment to the prosecution to enable them take steps in producing Dasuki in court on the next adjourned date.
Chief Olujimi also asked the court to issue a stern warning to the prosecution to be serious with the trial and to ensure that Dasuki is produced in court at all stages of the trial as required by law.
Mr. Solomon Umoh, counsel to Aminu Baba-Kusa (3rd Defendant), said: “Ordinarily the prosecution ought to apply for a bench warrant against Dasuki for failure to appear in court for trial.”
He however noted that in the instance case, the prosecution would not do so because they are the ones responsible for the absence of Dasuki because of his detention.
He said: “Let the truth be told here that it is the Federal Government that is frustrating this trial because it wants to eat its cake and have it at the same time.
“By this I mean the government wanted the first defendant tried for criminal matter and yet it was not ready to allow the defendant have access to his lawyers or even to court to face that trial.
“I would have asked that the defendants in this case be discharged and allow to go home pending the time the prosecution would get serious for their trial but I will reluctantly concede to one more adjournment be granted to the prosecution.
“Let me say that this adjournment should go with stern warning to the prosecution not to come before this court with another story because the defendants must not be held to ransom by the unwilling prosecution.”
Justice Baba Yusuf in his ruling said that it was the responsibility of the prosecution to produce the defendant in court as required by law but regretted that the prosecution unfortunately abdicated its responsibility yesterday as far as the case is concerned.
The judge said because the conduct of the prosecution had been good in the past, he would grant an adjournment again.
Justice Baba Yusuf therefore granted an adjournment of the trial till May 23, 2016