High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja has fixed February 4 for hearing of an application by former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, with which he seeks to stay proceedings in his trial.
?Dasuki is being tried with a former Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, a former Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Aminu Baba-Kusa and two others before the court on a 19-count charge in which he was accused of diverting N32bn arms fund.
Also named in the charge are two firms believed to be owned by Aminu-Kausa’s – Acacia Holdings Ltd and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.
Dasuki is, by the application, seeking to stay proceedings in the case, claiming that the prosecution was in contempt of court for allegedly disobeying an order made by the court, granting him bail.
He is contending that the decision by the Department of State Services (DSS) to re-arrest him on December 29, 2015 shortly after he was released from prison upon fulfilling the bail conditions granted him by the court on December 18 amounted to contempt.
Yesterday, Dasuki’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu (SAN) stressed the relevance of the application, which he said bordered on the integrity of the court and the ability of the former NSA to prepare adequately for his defence in the trial.
“It is true that we filed an application in which we are contending that the complainant, shortly after the first defendant (Dasuki) was released on bail took him back to custody.
“As far we are concerned, they (the prosecution) are in brazen breach of the court order,” Daudu said.
He stated that Dasuki’s lawyers did not know where he was kept after he was re-arrested; a development he claimed had affected the ability to prepare for his defence.
“We don’t know where he is kept. Apart from the fact that he looks leaner and thinner than when I last saw him, we have not been able to discuss with him in respect of his preparation for his defence.
“It is like tying our hand and engaging us in a boxing match,” Daudu said.
Earlier at the commencement of proceedings, lead prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), indicated his intention to open the prosecution’s case.
He said his witnesses were already in court and urged the court to direct that the trial should begin?.
Jacobs kicked against the hearing of Dasuki’s application, citing provisions of section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) Act 2015, which prohibits a court from entertaining any application for stay of proceedings.
He equally cited Section 396 (1) to (3) of the ACJ Act, which stipulates that any application challenging the competence of criminal charges could only be considered along with the substantive issues in the case and ruling on it delivered along with the judgment on the entire case.
Former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Akin Olujinmi (SAN), Solomon Umoh (SAN) and Olawale Akoni (SAN), who are lawyers to other defendants in the case, equally objected to the commencement of trial.
They said they were just served with additional prove of evidence by the prosecution, while some said they were yet to be served with the application by Dasuki.
Jacobs, in responding, said: “The additional proof of evidence was with respect to somebody’s statement which we are not going to use in this case.“
The trial judge, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, in a ruling, elected to hear Dasuki’s application before proceeding to trial.
He adjourned to February 4.