The failure of the Department of the State Security Service (SSS) to produce former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, before an Abuja High Court Wednesday, has again stalled Mr. Dasuki’s trial for alleged corruption.
At the resumed hearing, Rotimi Jacob, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s counsel, told Justice Baba Yusuf that Mr. 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 Mr. Dasuki refused.
He therefore asked the court to begin the trial in the absence of the defendant.
Mr. Jacob also told the court that an operative of the SSS told him that the counsels to the defendant had never made any attempt to go to the SSS Office to see their client, who has been in their custody since December 2015.
Mr. Jacob said the refusal of the defendant to be in court was a ploy to scuttle the trial.
However, Wale Balogun, Mr. Dasuki’s lawyer urged Justice Baba Yusuf to disregard the claim of the prosecution, saying as of Wednesday, Mr. Dasuki was still denied access to his lawyers.
Mr. Balogun said Mr. Jacob’s claim that an operative of SSS told him (Jacob) that Mr. Dasuki’s lawyers never made attempts to see him in the custody was “baseless and unwarranted” because he was quoting a third-party.
Mr. Dasuki’s lawyer said on the contrary it was the SSS 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, Mr. 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.
Mr. 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, in his comment, 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 SSS Operatives.
The judge, therefore agreed with the defence counsel on the need to adjourn the case. He adjourned the case to April 6 for the prosecution to produce the defendant in court.