The Federal Government again failed on Tuesday to produce former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, before a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja for trial on corruption charges brought against him by the government.
Although witnesses in the case were assembled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in court, the trial was scuttled by the failure of the State Security Services (SSS) to release Mr. Dasuki to EFCC for the trial.
At the resumed of the case, counsel to the EFCC, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, informed Justice Baba Yusuf that he had made serious efforts through the EFCC to contact the SSS to produce the first defendant in court and regretted that as at the time the court was sitting his efforts did not yield fruitful result.
The counsel informed the court that there was no indication that the former NSA would be brought to court for the trial even though the witnesses were in court.
Mr. Atolagbe appealed that the matter be stood down pending the arrival of the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob, who was attending a different case at the Court of Appeal.
Mr. Jacob was needed to give more details about Mr. Dasuki’s absence from court.
However, counsel to Salisu Shuaib, a former Director of Finance ONSA, Akin Olujimi, said that the coming into court of Mr. Jacob would be inconsequential in the absence of the first defendant (Mr. Dasuki).
Mr. Olujimi, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, told the court that the prosecution had failed to produce the defendant in court and ought to admit that and ask for adjournment.
The SAN informed Justice Baba Yusuf that it is settled in law that trial cannot go ahead in the absence of the defendant and prayed the judge to grant adjournment to the prosecution to enable them take steps to produce Mr. Dasuki in court on the adjourned date.
Mr. Olujimi also asked the court to issue a warning to the prosecution to be serious with the trial and to ensure that Mr. Dasuki was produced in court at all stages of the trial as demanded by law.
In his own submission, counsel to Aminu Baba-Kusa, a former executive at NNPC, Solomon Umor, informed Justice Baba Yusuf that “ordinarily the prosecution ought to apply for a bench warrant against Dasuki for a failure to appear in court for trial but noted that in the instance case, the prosecution would not do so because they were the one responsible for the absence of Dasuki because of his unwarranted detention.
“Let the truth be told here that it is the Federal Government that is frustrating this trial because it wants to eat its cake and have it at the same time. By this I mean the government wanted the first defendant tried for criminal matter and yet it was not ready to allow the defendant have access to his lawyers or even to court to face that trial.
“I would have asked that the defendants in this case be discharged and allow to go home pending the time the prosecution would get serious for their trial. But I will reluctantly concede to one more adjournment be granted to the prosecution.
“Let me say that this adjournment should go with stern warning to the prosecution (which) should not come before this court with another story because the defendants must not be held to ransom by the unwilling prosecution.”
In his ruling, Justice Baba Yusuf said that that it was the responsibility of the prosecution to produce the defendant in court as required by law but regretted that the prosecution had unfortunately abdicated this responsibility.
The Judge said because the conduct of the prosecution had been good in the past, he granted an adjournment of the trial till May 23, 2016.