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Dasuki: Judge warns FG to take trial serious, as DSS fails to produce defendant

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA- Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory High Court at Maitama, on Wednesday, warned the Federal Government to be more diligent in the trial of detained former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd.

Former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki,rtd

The Judge warned FG not to handle the proceeding it initiated against Dasuki and others accused of diverting funds from account of the NSA with levity, after the Department of State Service, DSS, for the second time in two consecutive days, failed to produce the ex-NSA in court for his trial.

Dasuki is facing two separate charges before the high court.

He is answering to a 22-count charge involving his alleged illegal diversion of N19.4billion, as well as, another 19-count charge bordering on alleged diversion of N32billion from ONSA account.

EFCC maintained that the alleged stolen funds were part of about $2.1billion meant for the purchase of arms to combat terrorism in the North-East.

Those equally on trial before the court are former Director of Finance and Administration in the office of NSA, Shuaibu Salisu‎, a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Aminu Baba-Kusa.

Others are former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, his son, Sagir, Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, as well as a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda.

Two of Baba-Kusa’s companies – Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited – are also part of the defendants.

They are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Dasuki who has been in detention since November 3, 2015, was billed to appear before the court for continuation of his case.

It will be recalled that the ex-NSA was on December 29, 2015, re-arrested by DSS operatives immediately he was released from Kuje Prison upon perfecting all conditions that three different courts stipulated for his bail.

At the resumed sitting, EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that the Director of Legal at the DSS, said that failure of the agency to produce the ex-NSA in court at the last adjourned date was an oversight.

Jacobs, SAN, said upon realising that Dasuki was not also brought to court again on Wednesday, he quickly contacted the DSS which he said told him that it was the defendant that was not willing to attend the court proceeding.

“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”, Jacobs stated.

However, Dasuki’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, while not opposing the adjournment request, berated the DSS for not producing his client in court.

“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”, he added.

Counsel to the other defendants also took turns to berate the DSS for attributing its failure to produce Dasuki in court as “an oversight”.

They urged the court to order the agency and the prosecution to ensure the presence of the defendant at the next adjourned date.

After listening to all the parties, trial Justice Baba-Yusuf, before adjourning the case to July 10, 11 and 12, warned the prosecution to stop handling the trial with levity.

“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 the course of justice”, the Judge warned.

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