For the second time in two consecutive days, the Department of State Services, on Wednesday, 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 over charges of alleged diversion of funds meant for the procurement of arms.
The case scheduled to come up before the court on Wednesday was one of the two relating to the alleged 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 the 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 the course of justice.”
The EFCC prosecutor, Jacobs, had told the judge on Wednesday that the DSS Director of Legal Services attributed the failure of the agency to produce the ex-NSA in court 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, 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 a 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 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 the continued detention of Dasuki highlighted the powerlessness of the court, saying the court granted the ex-NSA bail but he was not allowed to enjoy the bail.
On his part, another defence lawyer in the case, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), described as ‘irritating’ the oversight excuse given by the agency as the reason for the failure to produce the ex-NSA in court 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 tendered to the court.
“I find myself in a position that I cannot oppose the application for an adjournment.
“But I pray 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.”
The DSS has been detaining the ex-NSA since December 2015.
Justice Baba-Yusuf, while adjourning the case, warned that the court’s proceedings should not be taken lightly.
He adjourned the case till July 10, 11 and 12.