The Federal Government, on Wednesday, agreed to consolidate the criminal charges preferred against the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki and others before two different High Courts of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
This is coming barely 24 hours the ECOWAS Court ordered the Federal Government to release Dasuki from the detention he has been kept since December last year.
The decision to consolidate the charges followed a complaint by the former NSA that putting him on trial in two different courts on the same subject matter would cause him double jeopardy.
When the case came yesterday before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of FCT High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs and that of Dasuki, Mr. Joseph Daudu, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) agreed to formally write the Chief Judge of the FCT judiciary, Justice Ishaq Bello to consolidate the two charges in the interest of Justice.
Both counsel applied to Justice Baba-Yusuf to adjourn the matter pending the time the Chief Judge would consider the application for consolidation.
The trial Judge, who was billed to give ruling on Dasuki’s motion for consolidation yesterday, put off the ruling as a result of the understanding between the prosecution and the defence and adjourned the matter till October 21, 2016.
Dasuki is on trial before Justice Baba-Yusuf and another charge was filed against him before Justice Peter Affen, both of the FCT High Court on the same issue and subject.
The former NSA, who alleged abuse of judicial process in his trial applied that the two charges at the two High Courts be consolidated since they were on the same issues.
Dasuki who is standing trial on allegation of alleged misappropriation of funds along with four others before Justice Baba-Yusuf had insisted that the charges against him by the Federal Government on the same issue before another court constituted an abuse of court process.
In a motion brought pursuant to Section 6 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 1, 208, 396, 491 and 492 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, Dasuki had claimed that the two charges revolve round the same set of transactions and facts on the alleged funds misappropriation and breach of trust.
He claimed that the two charges, No: FCT/HC/CR/43/2015 and another one, FCT/HC/CR/42/2015 pending before Justice BabaIYusuf of the High Court No 4 and Justice Peter Affen of High Court No 24 are identical charges emanating from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and as such, must be consolidated in the interest of justice and fair trial to avoid double jeopardy.
The applicant further claimed that to stand trial before two different courts and two different Judges on the same set of facts and purported transactions of the office of the NSA will be prejudicial and great hardship against him as he stands the risk of double jeopardy having being charged in two different courts on the issue.
In the alternative, Dasuki prayed that his name be struck out from one of the two charges in the interest of justice.
In 30 paragraph affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Dolapo Kehinde, the Ex-NSA was said to be standing trial before Justice Baba-Yusuf on a 19 count charge for criminal breach of trust pursuant to Section 97, 309, 315 and 317 of the Penal Code and for also mis-appropriating certain properties in breach of Section 17 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2014.
The deponent, also averred that Dasuki and four others were also standing trial before Justice Peter Affen for similar offences on a 22-Count Charge of criminal breach of trust, contrary to Section 97, 309, 315 and 317 of Penal Code and dishonest misappropriation of certain properties, contrary to Section 17 of EFCC Act 2014.
He further averred that the pivotal issue whereupon the two charges revolve is the purported $2.1billion alleged to have been misappropriated by the former NSA.
The affidavit indicated that there was no distinction between the alleged transactions which led to the filing of the two charges and therefore, it is an abuse of court processes for the two charges to have been filed separately.
The former NSA to former President Goodluck Jonathan was arraigned before Justice Baba-Yusuf along with with four others for allegedly diverting the sum of N13.6 billion.
Others standing trial with him include; Shuaibu Salisu, a former Director of Finance, Office of the National Security Adviser; Aminu Baba-Kusa, a former NNPC Executive Director; Acacia Holding Limited, and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.
If consolidated, the trial will now be conducted by a single Court on October 21, 2016.