…..as FG moves to try him in absentia
Former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd, on Tuesday, refused to appear before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court for continuation of his trial, though he transmitted a letter to the court, accusing President Muhammadu of high-handedness.
Dasuki, in a letter he personally wrote to the trial court, said it has gotten to a point when there must be an end to what he described as “hypocrisy and lopsided/partisan rule of law” by the Federal Government.
He chronicled how FG repeatedly spurned various court orders, including the judgment of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, which okayed his release on bail pending the determination of different charges against him.
The former NSA who has been in detention since 2015, said he became apprehensive after President Buhari, in his maiden Presidential Media Chat, insisted that the “weight of crimes” he allegedly committed against the Nigerian State, were such that if allowed to enjoy any form of freedom, he would likely jump bail.
Dasuki, in the letter dated November 12 and addressed to Registrar of the trial court, said he has suffered unabated persecution in the hands of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
According to him, “Prevailing circumstances have prompted me to write this Letter to the Court, the hope of every Nigerian citizen. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the current administration has so much interfered with the judicial system, such that it has become practically impossible for the Court to maintain her independence, the administration of justice.
“The resolve to continue detaining me against the several orders of court and in brazen violation of the Constitution, is wrongful and arbitrary.“It has inflicted physical, emotional and psychological torture on my family and me. The decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria is not only high-handed, it is also arbitrary and in violation of both domestic and international laws on human rights.
“At this juncture, it will seem that the Nigerian Government is not inclined to yield or obey the Orders of any Court of law, whether domestic or international.
“Ironically, the Federal Government still wants to ride on judicial wings to prosecute me, when it does not comply with the Orders that proceed from the Court, especially in relations to me.
“At this point, I strongly believe that there must be an end to this hypocrisy and lopsided/partisan rule of law. Since the Federal Government has resolved not to comply with judicial Orders directing my release, it is better for the Court to also absolve me of the need to submit my self for further prosecution.
“Justice should be evenly dispensed as opposed to same being in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Kindly bring this information to the attention of his lordship”.
Meantime, trial Justice Ahmed Mohammed, said he would not take cognizance of the Dasuki’s letter, since it was forwarded directly to his court by the ex-NSA who personally signed it.Justice Mohammed said it was wrong for any party in a criminal matter, to directly exchange correspondences with the trial court.
The Judge said he directed the court clerk to return the letter back to whoever brought it.Earlier when the matter was called for continuation of trial, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Oladipupo Okpeseyi, SAN, told the court that Dasuki refused to be brought to court.
Okpeseyi said he was not aware of the ex-NSA’s letter or the fact that he would refuse to attend his trial as scheduled, until around 9am on Tuesday.
“My lord, it was this morning that he said No! I have written to the court that am not coming. No am not coming”.
FG’s lawyer accused Dasuki of deliberately challenging the authority of the court since the case was specifically adjourned for continuation of trial.He argued that Dasuki continued detention had no nexus with the instant case, saying he was duly granted bail by the court.
Consequently, Okpeseyi applied for FG to be allowed to try Dasuki in absentia in line with section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
The application was vehemently opposed by Dasuki’s lawyer, Mr. Victor Okwudiri, who urged the court for a short adjournment.
In a short ruling, Justice Mohammed said he had on April 10, when a similar incident happened, asked FG to approach the court with an affidavit, anyday Dasuki deliberately abstained from his trial.
“As at this morning, I do not have any affidavit from the prosecution for trial of the defendant to continue in his absence, otherwise, I would have made the order”, Justice Mohammed held.
He therefore adjourned the matter till November 19 to enable FG to comply with the ruling requesting it to file an affidavit to try the ex-NSA in absentia.
FG had in the charge before the court, alleged that Dasuki was on July 17, 2015, at his house situated at No. 13, John Khadiya Street, Asokoro, Abuja, found to be in possession of various range of firearms without requisite license, an offence punishable under section 27 (1)(a) of the Firearms Act Cap F28 LFN 2004.
He was accused of retaining the sums of $40,000, N5millon and another $20,000 in the same house and same date, contrary to section 15 (2)(d) of Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
FG further alleged that the ex-NSA had on July 16, 2015, at his residence at Sultan Abubakar Road and Sabon Birni Road, Sokoto State, retained another $150,000 and N37.6m being part of proceedings of unlawful act, contrary to Section 15 (3) of the Money Laundering Act 2011.
It listed the alleged illegal arms it found at Dasuki’s residence in Abuja as five Tavor Assault Rifles, 1 Macro Uzi with serial No 60244(Rifle), 20 magazines (Ammunition), 1 packet of MOD (Ministry of Defence) APG calibre gun, Luger No 033375 ( gun), small magazine containing 16 rounds of ammunition, and bigger magazine containing live rounds of ammunition.
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