The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told Justice Baba Yusuf of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, on Wednesday that the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), refused to be brought to court for his trial.
The EFCC is prosecuting Dasuki and his co-accused person – a former Director of Finance and Administration in the NSA office, Shuaibu Salisu, and a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Aminu Babakusa – on 19 counts of diversion of N32bn meant for arms procurement.
Two companies – Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited – belonging to Babakusa, are also defendants in the case.
Justice Yusuf had on February 8, after dismissing the application by Dasuki, seeking an order prohibiting the EFCC from further prosecuting him on account of his continued detention, had fixed Wednesday for the trial to begin.
On Wednesday, however, Dasuki, who had since December 29, 2015, remained in the custody of the Department of State Services, was not produced in court.
His two lead counsel, Messrs Joseph Daudu (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN), were also absent from the court.
But lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), informed the judge that Dasuki refused to be brought to court because the senior lawyers, defending him, would not be present in court on Wednesday.
Jacobs said, “The first defendant said he would not be in court unless he is abducted because his lead counsel, J. B Daudu and Ahmed Raji, are not going to be in court.”
Jacobs said Daudu had informed him of an application for stay of proceedings of the trial which was filed before the Court of Appeal on behalf of the former NSA.
He maintained that the law never stopped an accused person in detention from facing trial.
He also alleged that Dasuki’s lawyers had deliberately refused to visit their client in the DSS custody so that they could continue to use the excuse of lack of access to him (Dasuki) as an excuse to frustrate the case.
Jacobs added, “When a defendant is in custody, the counsel should be allowed access to the defendant.
“I asked the DSS whether the lawyers ever made attempt to see him, they said they never did. It is a deliberate plan to frustrate the trial.”
Counsel who represented Dasuki in court on Wednesday, Mr. Wale Balogun, however debunked the allegation that his client refused to be brought to court.
He said, “Concerning the allegation, the defence lawyer is not aware of it. The defendant is not in court; he has not been produced. It is the requirement of the law that he should be here. The prosecution has not applied for the accused to be excused from court.
“The DSS official should have deposed to an affidavit to that effect.”
The other defence lawyers, including Mr. Solomon Umoh (SAN), said the matter could not proceed due to Dasuki’s absence.
Justice Yusuf adjourned the case till April 6.
Another judge of the FCT High Court in Maitama, Abuja, Justice Peter Affen, before whom Dasuki and others are being prosecuted for alleged diversion of N19bn arms fund, had fixed April 20 and 22 for trial.
Justice Affen fixed the date for trial after dismissing another application by Dasuki to stop his trial on account of his continued detention.
Dasuki’s co-accused persons with respect to the case include a former Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, and a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda.