From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Irked by the consistent absence of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), in court for trial, a judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, yesterday warned the Department of State Service (DSS) not to take the trial lightly.
Justice Baba-Yusuf, who was angry over the conduct of the DSS, adjourned the case to July 10, 11 and 12, 2017, at the instance of the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).
He asked the prosecuting counsel to contact all agencies of government to ensure that Dasuki was produced in court on the next trial dates.
Dasuki is standing trial on charges of alleged diversion of funds meant for procurement of arms.
The judge said: “I only want to say that the proceedings of the court should not be taken lightly.
“Extraneous considerations must not be allowed to interfere with course of justice.”
Earlier, Jacobs said the DSS’ legal director attributed the failure of the agency to produce the ex-NSA in court on Tuesday to an “oversight.” He further explained that after he discovered that the ex-NSA had not been produced in court at the scheduled time on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission contacted the DSS, which blamed it on the unwillingness of Dasuki to attend court because he was indisposed.
Jacobs said: “I contacted the Director of Legal of DSS to explain the absence of the first defendant in court yesterday (Tuesday). He told me it was an oversight and that the first defendant would be produced this morning (Wednesday).
“I made series of efforts when I discovered he was not yet in court this morning, but I was unable to contact the DSS. I immediately contacted my client, the EFCC, for them to approach the DSS. My client later told me that the first defendant said he was indisposed and would not come to court.
“On account of that, I will be asking for an adjournment.”
Counsel to Dasuki, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), said he had no objection to the prosecutor’s application for an adjournment, even as he described the situation as “an inter-departmental issue.”
He further stated that the situation had further highlighted the state of powerlessness of the court that a defendant granted bail by the court was unable to enjoy the bail.
Daudu said: “From all that the prosecuting counsel has said, it is an inter-departmental issue. I think this highlights the powerlessness of the court; the court granted him bail, which he has not been allowed to enjoy.”
Another defence lawyer in the case, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), described the excuse of an oversight given by the agency as the reason for the failure to produce the ex-NSA in court earlier on Tuesday as “irritating”.
While not opposing the request for adjournment, Olujinmi asked the judge to direct the DSS to produce Dasuki in court on the next trial date.
Others standing trial alongside the ex- NSA are a former Director of Finance and Administration in the office of NSA, Shuaibu Salisu; former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Aminu Baba-Kusa.
Two companies belonging to Baba-Kusa, Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited, are also part of the defendants.
The case involving the alleged diversion of N32 billion was scheduled to come up on Tuesday, but while the other defendants in the case were in court, the DSS did not produce Dasuki.