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Dasuki shuns court, as his trial-in-absentia kicks

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…Files fresh application

The planned commencement of the trial of former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki in his absence was stalled yesterday owing to a fresh application he filed, querying the propriety of the trial.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja had, on November 19 this year, granted the prosecution’s prayer to do away with Dasuki’s presence since the ex-NSA has elected to stay away from the trial.

Dasuki is standing trial on charges of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms, brought against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

The judge’s November 19 ruling was preceded by a letter by Dasuki, in which he requested the court to stop his prosecution on the grounds that the Federal Government has allegedly failed to obey orders made for his release on bail.
The letter dated November 12, 2018, which he addressed to the Registrar of Court 5, was titled: “Re: Unabated persecution of Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd) by the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

When the case was called yesterday, the prosecuting lawyer, Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN) indicated his readiness to proceed with the case, when defense lawyer, Adeola Adedipe informed the judge about the fresh application filed by his client.
Adedipe urged the court to set Dasuki’s fresh application down for hearing, in opposition to Okpeseyi’s request that the court should stick to the business of the day, as per the court’s ruling of November 19 in which it elected to proceed with the trial, whether or not Dasuki was present.

Ruling yesterday, Justice Mohammed elected to adjourn further proceedings to allow for the hearing of Dasuki’s fresh application.
The judge noted that since the fresh application appears to be seeking to stop Okpeseyi from further prosecuting the case, it was incumbent on the court to determine the application before deciding whether or not to proceed with the trial.

Justice Mohammed adjourned the hearing of the application to January 9 next year.
In the application filed before the commencement of court’s proceedings on Tuesday, Dasuki is seeking, among others, “an order to adjourn sine die (indefinitely) the trial and/or further trial of the defendant, in this case, pending compliance by the complainant with this honourable court’s judgment per (delivered by) Hon. Justice Ijeoma L. Ojukwu on July 2, 2018.
Justice Chukwu had, in the judgment, ordered Dasuki’s release on the grounds that his continued detention amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to liberty.

Dasuki is contenting that by virtue of section 268(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, Okpesyi (SAN), a private legal practitioner, is required to prosecute this charge according to the directions of the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation, particularly with respect to the aforementioned judgment which is enforceable against him and all authorities.”
He argued that “further prosecution” of the case by Okpeseyi “without compliance with the judgment by Justice Ojukwu, “will be contrary to the direction of the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation who is the chief law officer of the federation and a judgment debtor to the said judgment”.

In the application signed by Ahmed Raji (SAN), Dasuki stated that the “application ought to be granted to preserve the integrity of the Bench and to avoid a constitutional breakdown.”

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