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”It’s about the integrity of the court”: Once again, Dasuki’s trial is stalled

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”It’s about the integrity of the court”: Once again, Dasuki’s trial is stalled

Justice Baba Yusuf of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja again on Friday adjourned the trial of the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) on 19 counts of diversion of N32bn arms fund. The case was adjourned till February 4 for the hearing of the ex-NSA’s application for stay of proceedings.

Dasuki’s lawyers filed an application for a stay of proceedings which is basically asking the court to halt further proceedings in the trial because the federal government was in contempt of court by disobeying an order granting the ex-NSA bail.

It would be recalled that Dasuki had been granted bail thrice but was simply re-arrested by the DSS after meeting the conditions of the bail. In fact, Justice Yusuf himself had granted bail to Dasuki on December 18, before the festive period. Dasuki only met the conditions on December 29, 2015, but was re-arrested by the DSS shortly after he was released from prison.

On Thursday, the trial could not proceed as Dasuki’s lawyers were in Kogi for an election petition case. When the case was called on Friday, Dasuki’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), reiterated the essence of the application for a stay of proceedings, 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.

The lead counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), urged the court to direct that the trial should begin. He opposed the hearing of Dasuki’s application, citing provisions of section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, the law guiding criminal proceedings, which prohibit the court from entertaining such applications.

He also 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.

But Justice Baba said he was inclined to hearing the application and reserved ruling on it.

‎Dasuki is being tried along with a former Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu and a former Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Aminu Baba-Kusa, whose two firms – Acacia Holdings Ltd and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited – are also part of the accused.

Other defence lawyers, Mr. Solomon Umoh (SAN), Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), and Olawale Akoni (SAN), had also complained that they were not served with either Dasuki’s application or the prosecution’s counter-affidavit to it.

Some of them also maintained that the trial could not commence as suggested by the prosecution as they were just moments before the proceedings served with an additional proof of evidence.

But Jacobs said the additional proof of evidence was only served upon request by one of the defence lawyers, Akoni.

The judge in a short ruling however ordered that all parties to the suit should be served with the processes relating to the application and adjourned hearing till February 4.

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