Arms deal: Permit me to stop submitting myself for trial, Ex-NSA writes court
THE former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (rtd), standing trial on charges bordering on illegal possession of firearms and money laundering before a Federal High Court in Abuja, has requested that he should be allowed to stop submitting himself for trial.
The former NSA who has been in custody of the Department of State Service (DSS) since, 2015, hinged his request in the letter he wrote to the court on the continued refusal of the Federal Government to comply with several court orders granting him bail.
He cited five court orders, including one by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, that ordered his release but continued to be violated by the Federal Government.
His letter, which dated November 12, 2018 and addressed to the Registrar of the Federal High Court, Abuja was personally signed by the former NSA.
He stated in the letter that “There must be an end to this hypocrisy and lopsided/partisan rule of law.
“Since the Federal Government has resolved not to comply with judicial orders, directing my release, it is better for the court to also absolve me of the need to submit myself further prosecution.
“Justice should be evenly dispensed, as opposed to same, being in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Dasuki is currently being prosecuted on three sets of charges with two of the sets relating to his alleged diversion of funds meant for purchase of arms, which is pending before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, and the other set bordering on illegal possession of firearms and money laundering pending before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
He said in his letter that he had at different times been granted bail by the courts in respect of the three sets of charges but the Federal Government refused to comply with the orders.
He recalled that he was re-arrested at Kuje Prison in Abuja on December 29, 2015 shortly after he was released on meeting the terms and conditions of the bail granted him in respect of the three sets of charges instituted against him before different judges.
He said as part of the efforts to regain his freedom, he filed applications in three different courts complaining of the disobedience of court orders by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the State Security Service.
“These courts were however of the view that I should apply for the enforcement of my fundamental human rights, given the peculiar circumstances of the case,” Dasuki said.
He said his family was skeptical about filing such fundamental rights enforcement suit “given the high-handedness of the government and its resolve not to comply with any kind of order which admitted me to bail”.
The ex-NSA said his family’s skepticism was aggravated by President Muhamadu Buhari’s comment in a presidential media chat on December 30, 2018 saying he would not be released from custody “because of the weight of crimes allegedly committed by me”.
He noted that due to Buhari’s statement, he filed a fundamental rights enforcement the ECOWAS Court and that on October 4, 2016, the court delivered its judgment ordering his release and directing the Federal Government to pay him the sum of N15 million as damages for violation of his rights as a result of his continued detention.
Dasuki was absent at the resumed hearing before Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday and his counsel at the proceedings Mr. Victor Okwudiri, drew the attention of the court to letter.
Okwudiri claimed that the defence team was not aware of the letter personally signed by Dasuki until they got to court on Tuesday.
According to the counsel, “We were not aware of the letter until this morning when we got to court. But from what I could got from the letter when I rushed through it this morning is that he is complaining about his plight in the custody of DSS”.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), told the court that Dasuki had informed operatives that he would not come to court since he had sent a letter to the court and added that even though the DSS operatives could force him to court, chose not to take such action to accord the defendant some respect due to him as a former NSA.
He described as an affront to the court, Dasuki’s decision not to appear in court but to write a letter instead.
He recalled that Dasuki had earlier on January 17, and April 10, 2018 refused to appear in court.
But, citing section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, Okpeseyi urged the court to proceed with trial by asking the prosecution to call its witness to testify in the absence of the trial.
Okwudiri, however, opposed the application insisting that the provisions of section 252(4) was not applicable since his client had not been allowed to enjoy the bail granted him by the court.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed noted that he had in his ruling delivered on April 10, 2018 directed the prosecution to file an affidavit stating the facts whenever the defendant, on his own decided not to appear in court.
He said the affidavit must be filed for him to be convinced that the defendant willfully stayed away from court.
He said the prosecution having failed to file an affidavit in respect of similar occurrence on Tuesday and he adjourned the matter till November 19, 2018 to enable them to comply.