Dasuki chronicled the various court orders and judgment of the ECOWAS Court, directing the Federal Government to release him on bail
Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former National Security Adviser Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) has told the Abuja division of the Federal High Court that he would no longer appear for his trial on alleged illegal possession of firearms and money laundering until the Federal Government obeyed various valid court orders admitting him to bail. Dasuki, who has been in detention since 2015, is also standing trial for alleged breach of public trust, diversion of public funds meant for the purchase of arms to fight Boko Haram insurgency, among others.
Dasuki’s position is contained in a letter addressed to the registrar of the court wherein he chronicled his travails in the hands of the Federal Government.
When the matter came up yesterday before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Dasuki was absent from the trial and his lawyer, Victor Okwudiri, drew the court’s attention to the letter written and signed by the defendant, stating his intention to stop appearing in court for his trial until the prosecution obeyed the orders releasing him on bail.
Reacting, counsel to the prosecution, Dipo Okpeseyi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), urged the court to order that Dasuki be tried in absentia. He predicated his prayers on the grounds that the cases for which the former NSA has been denied bail are independent of the instant case and described the defendant’s action as an affront to the court.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed held that the court would not grant the prosecution’s request to proceed with the trial in absentia unless the prosecution depose to an affidavit accusing the defence of willfully avoiding the court. Mohammed noted that the court had in its previous ruling on April 10 settled the issue of Dasuki’s alleged refusal to attend court hearing.
The judge further said the decision requested by the prosecution could only follow the applicant’s compliance with the ruling of the court on April 10. He, subsequently, adjourned the matter till November 19.
Dasuki’s letter accused President Muhammadu Buhari of “high-handedness and arbitrary violation of both domestic and international laws on human rights.”
He disclosed that he became apprehensive when Buhari, during a media chat on December 30, 2015, said: “I will not be released because the weight of crimes allegedly committed by me against the Nigerian state are such that if I am allowed to enjoy any form of freedom, I will likely jump bail.”
To justify his apprehension, Dasuki chronicled the various court orders and judgment of the ECOWAS Court, directing the Federal Government to release him on bail, but which it failed to obey.
In the November 12 letter, Dasuki asked the court to absolve him of any obligation of appearing at his trial since the office of the State Security Service, an agent of government detaining him, has also refused to respect the various court orders for his bail.”
The letter reads: “Prevailing circumstances have prompted me to write this letter to the court, the hope of every Nigerian citizen. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the current administration has so much interfered with the judicial system, such that it has become practically impossible for the court to maintain her independence, the administration of justice.
“The resolve to continue detaining me, against the several orders of court and in brazen violation of the constitution is wrongful and arbitrary. It has inflicted physical, emotional and psychological torture on my family and me. The decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria is not only high-handed, it is also arbitrary and in violation of both domestic and international laws on human rights.
“At this juncture, it will seem that the Nigerian government is not inclined to yield or obey the orders of any court of law; whether domestic or international. Ironically, the Federal Government still wants to ride on judicial wings to prosecute me, when it does not comply with orders that proceed from the court, especially in relations to me.
“At this point, I strongly believe that there must be an end to this hypocrisy and lopsided /partisan rule of law. Since the Federal Government has resolved not to comply with judicial orders directing my release, it is better for the court to also absolve me of the need to submit myself for further prosecution. Justice should be evenly dispensed, as opposed to same, being in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”