Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), has filed an application seeking the indefinite suspension of his trial pending when the Federal Government obeyed orders of Courts of competent jurisdiction which granted him bail.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had, on November 19, 2018, ruled that Dasuki be tried in absentia following his refusal to appear for his trial over allegation of money laundering and illegal possession of firearm.
However, the scheduled definite hearing was stalled due to an application filed by Adeola Adedipe on behalf of the former NSA.
The application was anchored on the provisions of Sections 1(1) & (2), 104, 105, 106, 159(2), 268, 491 & 492(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015; and Sections 6(6), 35, 16, 37, 41, 42, 105 & 174 of the 1999 Constitution (as altered).
In the said application dated December 10, Dasuki asked the court for an order adjourning his trial sine die (indefinitely), pending compliance by the complainant with the court’s judgment (per Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu] of 2nd July 2018, in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, between COL. MOHAMMED SAMBO DASUKI RTD. v. THE DG SSS & 2 ORS.
Dasuki also asked the court to make an order directing the lead counsel for the complainant (Oladipo Okpeseyi SAN) to produce and submit to the court, the direction of the Attorney General of the Federation on the court’s judgment (per Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu) of 2nd July 2018, in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, between COL MOHAMMED SAMBO DASUKI RTD. v. THE DG SSS & 2 ORS.
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Adedipe submitted that the trial cannot go on because of the application challenging the competence of the prosecution counsel Oladipupo Okpeseyi SAN to continue with the trial.
Reacting, Okpeseyi told the court that even though he was served with the defendant’s application in court, it would still not affect the already slated definite hearing because the motion was not ripe for hearing.
“My lord, on the last adjourned date of November 19, this court scheduled December 11, for commencement of trial; we have our witness in court and ready to proceed.
The prosecution counsel had argued that the application was premature and couldn’t be the basis for the court to discharge the scheduled hearing.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed admitted that it was correct to say that the matter was adjourned for definite hearing as well as correct to say that the defendant’s application was not ripe for hearing.
He however, held that if it continues to hear the matter, it then means that the court had automatically heard and rejected the application.More so, Justice Mohammed noted that issue raised by the defendant are threshold.
Consequently, the court fixed January 9, 2019 for hearing of Dasuki’s application.
The grounds where upon Dasuki’s application was predicated are “This Honourable Court ordered a release of the defendant, by its judgment delivered (per Hon. Justice ljeoma L. Ojukwu) on 2nd July 2018, in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, between COL. MOHAMMED SAMBO DASUKI RTD. v. THE DG SSS & 2 ORS.
“The said judgment is enforceable by virtue of Section 287 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) against all persons and authorities, particularly the Attorney General of the Federation and Department of State Service who were parties to same.
“By virtue of Section 268 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, Mr. Oladipo Okpeseyi SAN (private legal practitioner) is required to prosecute this charge according to the directions of the Attorney General of the Federation, particularly, with respect to the aforementioned judgment which is enforceable against him and all authorities.
Dasuki contended that further prosecution of the charge by Opeseyi without compliance with the court’s judgment (per Hon. Justice ljeoma L. Ojukwu) of 2nd July 2018, in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, between COL. MOHAMMED SAMBO DASUKI RTD. v. THE DG SSS & 2 ORS will be contrary to the direction of the HAGF who is the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and a judgment debtor to the said judgment.
The former NSA insisted that his application ought to be granted, in order to preserve the integrity of the Bench and to avoid a constitutional breakdown.
Kolapo Kehinde, a legal practitioner in the firm of Ahmed Raji & Co, one of the firms engaged in defence of the defendant/applicant deposed to an affidavit supporting the application.
The deponent averred that the charge was instituted in 2015 in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF).
“The defendant has since been in custody of the DSS, despite several orders of court admitting him to bail.
“The defendant however approached this court vide a suit to enforce his fundamental human right, and same was sustained by a judgment delivered by Hon. Justice ljeoma L. Ojukwu on 2nd July 2018, in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, between COL. MOHAMMED SAMBO DASUKI RTD. v. THE DG SSS & 2 ORS.
A certified copy of the judgement was attached and marked Exhibit ‘A’.
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The affidavit stated that the court in the said judgment directed an immediate release of the defendant, upon fulfilment of certain conditions, which were complied.
It was also stated in the affidavit that the DSS is an integral part of the prosecutorial team in the charge having invaded the defendant’s house, purportedly investigated the case, and thereafter listed its officers to testify as witnesses in support of the charge.
“Notwithstanding the letters written by the Registrar/Deputy Registrar of this Court to the DSS, for the defendant’s release, the SSS has refused to release the defendant in brazen defiance of the afore described judgment.
“The HAGF, now a judgment debtor (in judgment delivered by Hon. Justice ljeoma L. Ojukwu) on 2nd July 2018, in suit so. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, between COL. MOHAMMED SAMBO DASUKI RTD. v. THE DG SSS & 2 ORS is bound to comply with same by ensuring an immediate release of the defendant.
“Mr. Dipo Okpeseyi SAN (a private legal practitioner) is currently leading the prosecutorial team in this case on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation, and he is bound by the directions of the HAGF.
“Mr. Okpeseyi has elected to continue with trial in this case against the defendant, without ensuring that the defendant is released from DSS custody in compliance with the aforementioned judgment.
In view of the above, Dasuki posited that the court has powers to direct Opeseyi to produce the direction of the HAGF on the judgment of 2nd July 2018, which is being brazenly defied.
He insisted that the court has powers to adjourn further trial of the defendant in this case sine die, pending release of the defendant in compliance with its judgment (per Hon. Justice ljeoma L. Ojukwu) of 2nd July 2018, in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/).