Wednesday, January 20, 2016 2:19 pm
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of Federal High Court, Abuja today ordered the Federal Government to produce former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retired) in court on February 16 when the trial of criminal charges filed against him will begin.
This followed the failure of government to bring Dasuki to court for the continuation of his trial on Wednesday.
No reason was given by the prosecution counsel for the absence of the accused in court and the Judge was clearly outraged.
“I am worried that the accused is not here. I do not want to set a bad precedent. Except the court gives express order for the defendant not to be in court, the accused must be brought to court from wherever he is. The accused must be here because I am not sure if what I am doing right now in the absence of the accused is not an illegality,” the Judge noted.
“Government and whoever is concerned must endeavour to do the necessary thing. The accused having been formally charged in court must be produced in court for trial on the appointed days in compliance with provisions of the law,” he added.
Dasuki’s counsel Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), had also complained bitterly that his client was abducted by security agents of the Federal Government six weeks ago to an unknown destination.
According to the Judge, it is mandatory for a defendant in a criminal matter to be physically present in court at every stage of the prosecution except where the presence of an accused is excused by court for reasons.
Daudu informed Justice Ademola that since Dasuki was whisked away all efforts by Dasuki’s family members and his lawyers to have access to him had been scuttled.
He also complained that though his client has been granted bail in three different High Courts where he was arraigned by the Federal Government, the government and its agents have up till date refused to allow Dasuki go enjoy the bail by freeing him from custody.
Daudu therefore urged the judge to compel the Federal Government and its agents to respect the court’s decision, having joined issues with the defendant in court.
Dasuki is being tried on four count charges of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms before Justice Ademola. He is also being tried alongside two others at two separate High Courts of Federal Capital Territory on charges related to allege diversion of $2.1 billion budgeted for purchase of arms while he was the NSA.
He was re-arrested by the operatives of the Department of State Service shortly after he was released from Kuje Prison after fulfilling the conditions of bail earlier granted him by the FCT High Court last month.
Dikpo Okpeseyi, the prosecution counsel had earlier applied for withdrawal of an application earlier filed by government, seeking revocation of bail granted Dasuki on November 3, last year.
The judge consequently struck out the application and announced that ruling would be delivered on February 16 in a pending government application, seeking secret trial of the former NSA.
The federal government had arraigned Dasuki in court on charges of unlawful possession of fire arms, breach of trust and money laundering.
The Judge has fixed the trial of the former NSA for 16 and 17 February 2016.