The Federal Government accused former National Security Adviser (NSA), Mohammed Sambo Dasuki of plotting to scuttle his trial before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Maitama, Abuja.
Dasuki is being tried with a former Director of Finance and Administration, Office of the National Security Adviser, Shuaibu Salisu, a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Aminu Babakusa and two companies – Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited – on a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering and criminal breach of trust.
The accusation is contained in a counter-affidavit filed by the prosecution against an application filed by Dasuki.
The ex-NSA is, in an application he filed last month, accused the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and by extension, the Federal Government, of breaching his right to prepare for his defence by re-arresting him after the court granted him bail on December 18 last years.
He urged the court to among others, restrain the prosecution from proceeding with the trial or quash all the charges against him on the ground that the prosecution could no longer proceed with the case having allegedly flouted the court’s order granting him bail.
Arguing the prosecution’s counter -affidavit Thursday, prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) contended that the application was misconceived and an attempt to frustrate proceedings in the case.
He faulted Dasuki’s claim that the prosecution has flouted the court’s order.
He noted that Dasuki, in an affidavit supporting his application, admitted that he was released from Kuje Prison after he met the bail condition.
Jacobs argued that having admitted that he was released from prison based on the bail granted him, Dasuki could not now turn around to accuse the prosecution of disobeying the court’s order granting him bail.
The prosecution lawyer noted that Dasuki was re-arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) in respect of separate allegations of criminality.
He argued that it was wrong for Dasuki to seek to hold EFCC for contempt on account of actions taken by the DSS. It was his position that Dasuki ought to initiate fundamental rights enforcement proceedings, under Section 46 of the Constitution, if he was convinced that the re-arrest amounted to a violation of his rights.
Jacobs noted that the order for bail made by the court on December 18 last year did not restrain other security agencies from further arresting him in relation to separate offences.
“It is the EFCC that is prosecuting this case. The DSS has a separate case against him before the Federal High Court. If he has anything against DSS for re-arresting him, he should go before the FHC.
“This application is intended to delay the trial here. The application is an abuse of court process.
“They admitted in their affidavit that he was released from Kuje prison. By their admission, the order was obeyed. There is no other of this court that has been breached as they alleged.
“That order granting bail to the applicant (Dasuki) did not confer immunity on him against further arrest,” Jacobs said.
He urged the court to reject Dasuki’s application on the ground that it was without merit and only intended to delay trial.
Earlier, while arguing the application, Dasuki’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu (SAN) argued that the re-arrest of his client by DSS was a violation of his client’s right to fair trial and the right to prepare for his defence.
“The 1st defendant (Dasuki) was granted bail on December 18, 2015 he perfected the bail, but shortly afterwards, the complainant (EFCC) took him (Dasuki) into custody again.
“We have shown how his denial of freedom has denied him the ability to prepare for his defence. And it is a breach of his right to fair trial.
“His liberty was breached despite the order of the court. It is our argument that a party in breach of court order cannot seek the court’s indulgence, including seeking to continue with the prosecution of the defendant,” Daudu said.
He faulted Jacob’s attempt to distinguish between EFCC and DSS, arguing that they were both agents of the Executive, who were allegedly carrying out a purported instruction of the President to keep Dasuki in custody at all cost.
Jacobs also queried the legitimacy of the powers of the EFCC, DSS and other agencies of the Federal Government to prosecute, arguing that it was only the Nigeria Police Force, under Section 204 of the Constitution that has such prosecutorial power.
Daudu said his client’s application is intended to compel the prosecution, who is an agent of the Federal Government, to comply with an existing order of the court.
“The prosecution of all cases should be grounded to compel the Executive to obey court’s orders. It is high time the court asserts itself by insisting that its orders are complied with,” Daudu said.
He urged the court to grant his client’s application.
The trial judge, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf refused oral applications by other defence lawyers – Akin Olujinmi, Solomon Umoh, A. I. Layonu and Olajide Ayodele (all Senior Advocates of Nigeria) – for an adjournment to enable them file written submission in support of Dasuki’s application.
The judge held that parties were allowed ample time to file their processes in the case, but Olujinmi, Umoh, Layonu and Ayodeji failed to utilise the opportunity granted to all parytes.
He upheld Jacobs’ argument that there was no cogent reason adduced by the four lawyers to warrant an adjournment.
The judge adjourned to February 8 for ruling.