Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday expressed it’s intention for a separate trial of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), on corruption and money laundering charges.
Dasuki alongside seven others are standing trial in two separate charges before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja.
According to the charge filed in 2015 by the E Commission, the defendants are accused of misappropriating funds meant to procure arms in the fight against insurgents.
In the first case, with number FCT/HC/CR/42/2015, Dasuki was charged alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda; a former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, his son, Sagir, and his company, Dalhatu Investment Limited.
They are facing a 25-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of public fund to the tune N19.4 billion.
In the second case, numbered FCT/HC/CR/43/2015, Dasuki is facing trial alongside a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Aminu Baba- kusa, and two firms: Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.
They were first charged in November 2015 on a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering and breach of trust to the tune of N13.5 billion, alongside a former Director of Finance and Administration, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Shuaibu Salisu, who was later removed from the charge.
Other defendants were on May 16, 2018 re-arraigned on an amended 32-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, dishonest release and receiving various sums of money to the tune of N33,287,984,968 and misappropriation.
However, not much progress has been made in the hearing of both cases since 2015, particularly with Dasuki’s resolve not to appear in court for trial until such a time that the federal government complies with the court order releasing him from the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS) on bail.
When the trial came up on Thursday in one of the cases, counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, expressed frustration over the continuous absence of Dasuki, who is the first defendant in the case.
Jacobs told the court that the prosecution had filed a motion dated November 4, seeking the continuation of trial in Dasuki’s absence, adding that the prosecution was served with a counter affidavit this morning.
He , however, said that the best thing to do in the present circumstance was the unbundling of the case so that Dasuki would be separated from other defendants.
The prosecution counsel while lamenting the frustration with going on with the case, and said , “We can’t be in the same place for four years without moving.”
He, therefore, told the court that the charge against the defendants might be amended to remove Dasuki’s name to enable other defendants face their trial without further delays.
He said that he would file separate charge against other defendants in both cases in which Dasuki is involved before the court and sought for an adjournment to do so.
Responding, Baba- kusa’s lawyer, Mr Solomon Umoh, SAN, submitted that what Jacobs was suggesting did not have any place in the book.
According to Umoh, Dasuki was central to the charge against other defendants, adding that, “if he is separated, how can we get a fair hearing?”
Justice Baba-Yusuf, however, gave an open adjournment and asked the prosecution to file the amendment and serve same on the defendants for them to come to court and take their fresh plea.