$2.1bn arms deal: Dasuki’s absence stalls trial

$2.1bn arms deal: Dasuki’s absence stalls trial
March 23 18:41 2016

The trial of the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) was stalled on Wednesday  because both the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) could  not bring him to Abuja High Court where he is standing trial for alleged diversion of 2.1 billion dollars meant for arms procurement.

At the resumed hearing, Rotimi Jacob, EFCC counsel, told Justice Baba Yusuf that Dasuki refused to be in court on the
grounds that his lawyers, Joseph Daudu and Ahmed Raji, would not be in court.

The prosecutor told the court that he persuaded the defendant to come to court to see how the proceedings would be conducted, but that Dasuki refused.

He therefore asked the court to begin the trial in the absence of the defendant. Jacob also told the court that an official of the DSS told him that the counsels to the defendant had never made any attempt to go to the DSS office to see their client, who has been in their custody since December last year.

Jacob said the refusal of the defendant to be in court was a ploy to scuttle the trial. However, Wale Balogun,
Dasuki’s lawyer urged Justice Baba Yusuf to disregard the claim of the prosecution, saying as of Wednesday, Dasuki was still denied access to his lawyers.
Balogun said Jacob’s claim that an operative of DSS told him (Jacob) that  Dasuki’s lawyers never made attempts to see
him in the custody was “baseless and unwarranted” because he was quoting a third- party.

Dasuki’s lawyer said on the contrary itwas the DSS and the prosecution that scuttled the trial by their deliberate refusal to produce the defendant who has been in their custody since last year in court.

The counsel said as the prosecutor,  Jacob could not give evidence from the bar on why the defendant was not brought to court. He said what he ought to have done was to have filed an affidavit evidence to explain to the court why the defendant was not in court.

Balogun insisted that the accused could not be tried in his absence and without access to his lawyers to prepare effective defence. He added that the prosecution would continue to bungle the trial until they resolved to obey the
rule of law and take necessary steps required by law.

The position of Dasuki’s lawyer was adopted by lawyers standing for other defendants in the criminal charges brought against Mr. Dasuki.

Justice Baba Yusuf, agreed that the trial should have commenced, but said that could not happen in the absence of
the defendant and without the permission of the court.

The judge said he would have agreed with the prosecution that lawyers to Mr. Dasuki had not made any effort to access their clients in the custody, but said it was clear the information was hearsay obtained from unnamed DSS Operatives.

The judge, therefore adjourned the case to April 6 for the prosecution to produce the defendant in court.