For the second time in two consecutive days, the Department of State Service failed to produce the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, for the continuation of his trial on charges of alleged diversion of funds meant for procurement of arms.
The case scheduled to come up before the court on Wednesday was one the two relating to diversion of arms funds instituted against Dasuki and others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Due to the DSS’ failure to produce the ex-NSA in court on Wednesday, the trial judge, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, was forced to grant the request for an adjournment by EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).
But while adjourning the case Justice Baba-Yusuf warned that the trial should not be taken lightly.
The judge ruled, “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.”
EFCC’s prosecutor, Jacobs, told had told the judge on Wednesday that the DSS’ Director of Legal attributed the failure of the agency to produce the ex-NSA in court earlier on Tuesday to an “oversight”.
Jacobs explained further 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 according to the prosecutor, said the ex-NSA was unwilling to attend court because he (Dasuki) 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.”
In response, Dasuki’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), said he had no objection to the prosecutor’s application for an adjournment.
But he described the situation as “an inter-departmental issue”.
He added that it 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.”
On his part, 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.
Olujinmi said although he had no objection to the application for adjournment, 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.
Justice Baba-Justice, while adjourning the case, warned that the court’s proceedings should not be taken lightly.
He asked the prosecuting counsel to contact all relevant agencies of government to ensure that Dasuki was produced in court on the next trial dates.
The judge then adjourned until July 10, 11 and 12.
The DSS has been detaining the ex-NSA 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.
Dasuki’s co-accused in the case 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 of Baba-Kusa’s 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.
While the other defendants in the case were in court, the DSS did not produce Dasuki.