The planned trial-in-absentia of the detained former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, before the Federal High Court in Abuja, was on Tuesday stalled as result of a fresh application filed by the ex-NSA.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed on November 19, 2018 evoked the provision of section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 by ordering that Dasuki’s trial would continue with or without him in court.
The judge made the November 19, 2018 order following Dasuki’s refusal to be brought to court for trial by the Department of State Services, the agency that has held him in custody in defiance of various court orders.
As threatened by Dasuki in his letter addressed to the court, prior to the November 19 proceedings, the ex-NSA was absent from Tuesday’s proceedings.
The retired military officer’s trial involves charges of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms instituted against him by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
Justice Mohammed’s directive for a “definite hearing” with or without Dasuki’s presence on Tuesday was thwarted after his lawyer, Mr. Adeola Adedipe, informed the judge about his client’s newly-filed application, and requested that the application “be set down for hearing”.
But the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), said he was only served with the application a few moments before Tuesday’s proceedings, urging the court to stick to the business of the day as ordered on November 19.
Urging the court to reject the prosecution’s request for the continuation of trial, Adedipe however said the new application “touched on the competence” of the lead prosecuting counsel to continue to prosecute the case.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed decided to adjourn the proceedings for the hearing of the fresh application.
The judge agreed with the defence counsel to the effect that since the application “seems to me to be seeking to stop the prosecution of this case by Mr. Okpeseyi”, it meant that “the court has ultimately decided it without giving it a hearing” if the trial was allowed to go on Tuesday.
He then fixed January 9 for the hearing of the application.
In the application, the defence sought “an order to adjourn sine die (indefinitely) the trial and/or further trial of the defendant in this case pending compliance by the complainant with this honourable court’s judgment per (delivered by) Hon. Justice Ijeoma L. Ojukwu on July 2, 2018…”
The defence sought as an additional or alternative prayer, “an order directing the lead counsel for the complainant to produce and submit to the court the direction of the Attorney General of the Federation on this honourable court’s judgment (per Hon. Justice Ijeoma L. Ojukwu) of July 2, 2018…”
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu also of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court in the said July 2, 2018 judgment referred to in the application ordered Dasuki’s release from detention.