An Abuja division of the Federal High Court has ordered the continuation of the trial of a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, in his absence.
The judge , Ahmed Muhammed, made the ruling on Monday after the prosecution provided an affidavit according to the directive of the court on November 13.
The court had during its last sitting on November 13 refused an oral application by the prosecution to continue Mr Dasuki’s trial in his absence.
Mr Dasuki, who is in detention by the State Security Service, refused to turn up in court because the prosecution (the Nigerian Government) failed to comply with an April 10 decision of the court.
Mr Ahmed had ruled that in the event where the prosecution believed the defendant (Mr Dasuki) willfully refused to appear in court, the prosecution should file an affidavit accusing him of willfully avoiding court sessions.
Subsequently on Monday, the prosecution counsel, Oladipupo Opeseyi, informed the court of the affidavit, accusing Mr Dasuki of refusing to attend trial.
Mr Opeseyi said, “The defendant in this matter in his wisdom again has decided not to obey the order of this court to appear for his trial. This would be the fourth time since the trial began.
“By the last adjourn date, the defendant wrote to the court on November 13 through a letter dated November 12, stating in clear terms that he would no longer attend court proceedings.
“We had thought that with the proceedings of November 13, the defendant would be in court today.
“Again we received information after every necessary arrangement for him to be in court today, he had decided not to be court, just as he said in his letter of November 12.
“Pursuant to the ruling of this court on April 10, we filed an affidavit today to the effect in compliance to the court order.
“May I humbly refer this court to the said letter (exhibit) to state that by paragraph 1 to 4 are matter about his background history ending with the fact he ceased being the national security adviser. Paragraph 5 indeed has admitted the fact that he was granted bail by this court.
“The first two sentences in paragraph 6 are also admission that this court granted him medical leave. From paragraph 6 down to 8 are facts relating to matters not before this honorable court and indeed admitted in paragraph 8.
“The point we are making here is that the matter of the defendant’s arrest and rearrest are not issues before this court. The defendant admitted in paragraph 10 that he filed three separate applications in three different courts. One of such application is in this court.
“Since he has decided to disobey the order of the court, I hereby humbly request that this trial should proceed in the absence of the defendant, or alternatively, the matter be stood down for him to be brought to this court willingly.
“The defendant must be present throughout the trial till the judgement except the court excuses his presence in the court.
“We pray this honorable court not to take the challenge lightly.”
The defendant’s counsel, Victor Okwudiri, in response to the prosecution said the affidavit presented to the court followed an incompetent process in the sense that it was not in compliance with rule 10 sub 1, 2 and 3 of the rules of professional conduct.
According to Mr Okwudiri, “In support of our submission, we refer to the Supreme Court authority of Senator Bello Sarkin Yaki Vs Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu and others in 2015 which says that any process not in compliance with the provision of rule 10 sub 1,2,3 of the rules of professional conduct is incompetent.”
Mr Okwudiri therefore urged the court to discontinue the affidavit filed by the prosecution Monday morning. He added that the affidavit did not conform with the April 10 order of the court.
“We submit that this affidavit does not comply with the order of April 10,” the lawyer said.
The judge, however, granted the request of the prosecution by ruling that Mr Dasuki’s trial should continue in his absence in court.
Mr Muhammed adjourned the matter to December 11 for continuation of trial.
Mr Dasuki was arrested in December 2015 and has remained in detention since then despite several court orders for his release.
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