Court adjourns Dasuki’s trial till 16 May over irregularity on witness’ list

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Friday adjourned the trial of the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd) and four others till 16, 17 and 18 May.

The former NSA is the first defendant in the case in which a former Director of Finance and Administration, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Shuaibu Salisu;  former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),  Aminu Babakusa and two firms: Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited are also being arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on behalf of the Federal Government.

The adjournment followed the objection raised by counsel for Dasuki, Joseph Daudu (SAN), on the continuation of the first prosecution witness, Michael Adariku, an official of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) giving evidence in the matter.

The senior advocate informed the court that Adariku, who was scheduled to continue his evidence which he started on 25 January, 2017, should be disqualified on the ground that he was not listed on the witnesses list as demanded by Section 397 of the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) Act 2015.

According to Daudu, it was the requirement of the law that all witnesses in a criminal matter had to be listed and such list of the witnesses had to be served on the defendants to enable them know the background of the witnesses and be prepared to cross examine the witnesses.

While urging the court to disallow the witness from giving further evidence, the senior counsel appealed to the court to expunge all the witness had said in his evidence in chief from the record.

Daudu added that he was being guided by the list of witnesses in accordance with the law and that the fact that the witness’s statement had been front loaded did not translate to his being called to give evidence.

He, however, declared that he raised the objection in order not to allow the court to engage in an exercise in futility.

Responding, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) urged the court to discountenance the objection raised by the counsel for the first defendant, Daudu (SAN), saying that the defendants had all been served before hand with the statement of PW1, which he informed was on Pages 964-965 of the proof of evidence served on them.

He noted that Adariku’s statement was not made under caution and that he was not a defendant in the matter, submitting that the defendants knew that the prosecution would call the witness, whose statement was made available to them since 2015.

Jacobs stated that since the defendants had the statement made by Adariku, they ought to have prepared their cross examination for him since, adding, however, that the witness had started giving evidence without any opposition by any of the defendants.

According to him, the defence could not stop him at the middle of his giving evidence, saying that in the interest of justice, the court could grant him permission to write the name of the witness on the witness list and sign same.

Having listened to the submissions of the counsel, the presiding judge, Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf directed the prosecution to do the needful by including the names of the witness and any others on the witness list and serve the defendants.

Justice Baba-Yusuf, therefore, adjourned the matter, based on the agreement of all counsel in the matter, till 16, 17 and 18 May.

The judge had earlier adjourned the second case the former National Security Adviser is being arraigned before him till 11 and 12 May for commencement of trial.

Colonel Dasuki (retd), who is the second defendant in the matter, is being arraigned alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda; the Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Shuaibu Salisu; a former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; his son, Sagir Attahiru and the company belonging to the former governor, Dalhatu Investment Limited.