The detained former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd, yesterday, asked an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama to stay further proceeding on the N32billion money laundering charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, insistuted against him.
Dasuki is facing trial before the court alongside the erstwhile Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu and a former Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, NNPC, Aminu Baba-Kusa .
Also charged over the alleged fraud were two firms, Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referal Hospital Limited, which the anti-graft agency said served as conduit pipes through which the N32bn was allegedly siphoned from accounts the office of the NSA operated with both the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions.
The funds were allegedly distributed to delegates that attended the Presidential Primary Election the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held in Abuja, a process that saw the emergence of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan as the sole candidate of the party.
All the accused persons had on December 14, pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as the court, on December 18, granted each of them bail to the tune of N200 million.
Aside the seizure of all their international passports, Justice Yusuf equally ordered the defendants to produce one surety each, who he said must be a serving or retired civil servant not below the rank of a Director that owns a landed property within the Federal Capital Territory worth N200m.
Meantime, Dasuki, via the application he filed through his team of lawyers led by a former National President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. J. B. Daudu, SAN, urged trial Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf to suspend hearing on the 19-count criminal charge pending against them before the court.
He anchored the application on the blatant refusal of the Federal Government to release him from its custody, despite the fact that he has perfected all the bail conditions that were handed to him by three different courts.
Dasuki insisted that the action of the government against him was in contempt of valid and subsisting order the court made on December 18.
While urging the court to grant the application for the purpose of protecting its integrity, Dasuki’s lawyer argued that the continued incarceration of his client has greatly affected his right to adequately prepare for his defence. Alternatively, Dasuki, yesterday, prayed the court to discharge him from the matter.
“My Lord it has become obvious that the prosecution is not ready to obey the orders of this court. This was evident in what happened when this matter came up on Thursday. It took an express order from my Lord for them to bring the 1st defendant to court for his trial.
“My client has been granted bail by all the courts they charged him, yet the Federal Government refused to obey the court orders even when we have fulfilled all the bail conditions. They cannot keep him in detention forever all in the name of conducting investigations.
“Nobody compelled them to charge my client to court without conducting their investigations properly”, Daudu submitted.
Meantime, the EFCC vehemently opposed the application which it described as a deliberate ploy by the ex-NSA to delay his trial.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, noted that Justice Yusuf earlier okayed full-blown trial to commence on the matter yesterday, saying his witnesses were in court and ready to testify against the accused persons.
Besides, Jacobs drew the attention of the court to the provisions of sections 306 and 396 (1) to (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, which he said prohibited the stay of criminal proceedings.
The EFCC argued that the ACJA stipulated that any application challenging the competence of a criminal proceeding should be considered along with the substantive matter.