- Ex-NSA tells ECOWAS Court he is unjustly incarcerated
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja was wednesday told that the weapons found in the Asokoro residence of the former National Security Adviser, (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) barely 48 hours after he left office in 2015 belonged to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
The weapons were said to be for the use of the security details attached to him as the National Security Adviser (NSA) for protection.
These were contained in Dasuki’s statement made to the operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) tendered and admitted as exhibit by Justice Adeniyi Ademola in the ongoing trial of Dasuki on charges of unlawful possession of arms.
A prosecution witness in the trial of Dasuki, Mr. Samuel Ogbu who is an operative of DSS indicated this when he read in the open court the statement made by Dasuki during his interrogation by DSS before he was charged to court.
Under cross-examination by counsel to Dasuki, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), the witness said Dasuki in his statement confirmed that the weapons were for the ONSA and for the protection of the NSA.
The witness also said Dasuki claimed in his written statement that the weapons were to be returned to the ONSA by the security details at the end of the day.
Ogbu who was asked by Dasuki’s lawyer to read a portion of the statement of the defendant to the open court, admitted that Dasuki in the first paragraph of his statement made it clear that the weapons belonged to the ONSA and not his personal belonging.
The witness further said he could not remember the date Dasuki left office as NSA but however insisted that the interrogation was conducted after he had left office.
Answering another question, the witness, who claimed to have spent 34 years in the service, admitted that the NSA was entitled to security details as the coordinator of activities for all security agencies in the country.
The operative claimed that the DSS did not issue the weapon to the former NSA but admitted he would not know whether the weapons were issued to Dasuki by the military authority, especially the Nigerian Army.
Also under cross-examination, the witness admitted that he had never being to the armoury of the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and DMI and would not know whether the weapons found in Dasuki’s house were issued to him by any of the agencies.
The witness said: “I am aware that the Office of the NSA co-ordinates the activities of all security agencies in this country comprising the police, army, air force, navy, DSS, and DMI among others and my evidence in this trial relates only to what happens in the DSS.”
Earlier in his evidence-in-chief, the witness had claimed that the house of Dasuki was searched based on intelligence report and that some weapons including powerful rifles were recovered.
He said as a follow-up to the recovery, he was invited to participate in the interrogation of Dasuki to know the ownership of the weapons and for what purposes they were meant in the house.
The witness claimed that the interrogation was freely conducted and fully recorded in video and that Dasuki’s statement was also recorded when it was being made voluntarily.
Led in evidence by the counsel to the federal government, Chief Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), the witness said the DSS decided to interrogate the ex-NSA on the weapons because of their sophistication.
The witness added that ordinarily such weapons were not usually issued to ordinary individuals because of their capacities and that licences were not usually issued to individuals to purchase or carry.
Ogwu told the court that parts of the guns, Tavor Assault Rifle were imported into the country by the federal government following the crises of the insurgency, especially Boko Haram so as to enable the country’s security personnel to have an edge over terrorists.
Further hearing continues today.
Meanwhile, Dasuki has told the ECOWAS Community Court that the federal government had no legal or moral justification for his continued incarceration since December last year.
Dasuki who spoke through his counsel, Mr. Robert Emukperuo, yesterday while making his final address, predicated his stance on Sections 293-296 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act ACJA 2015 which outlines the procedure for keeping a suspect in detention for not more than two weeks.
“To accentuate the illegality of the arrest and detention of the applicant, the ACJA 2015, S.293 to 296 thereof, set out the procedure for the detention of any person pending trial or investigation. And in summary, that procedure requires judicial intervention by a magistrate for it to be carried out and the maximum detention time-frame is two weeks”, he submitted.
Emukperuo had earlier filed an application to amend the originating application by including additional reliefs, a request the court granted, ordering the defendant to respond, if any, within 15 days to the issues raised in the amendment.
He prayed the court to order the release of his client and as well order the government to pay N500 million as compensation to Dasuki.
He recalled how several courts had granted Dasuki bail and how President Muhammadu Buhari had stated in a media chat that the ex-NSA could not just be released.
He said his client’s arrest and detention by the defendant was without any legal justification because it was not backed with any court order.
“The critical issue that needs to be resolved is whether there is any legal justification for the detention of the applicant by the defendant”, he said, adding that the only justification in the amended statement of defence adduced by the defendant for detaining the applicant is the recourse to national security.
“They have not adduced before this court any judicial procedure that they have relied on in incarcerating the applicant.
“They have equally not relayed to the court any domestic legislation whatsoever to justify the detention of the applicant.
“My lord I submit that this is a classic case of arbitrary and illegal arrest”, he added.
The counsel further submitted that the government had defied all known legal instruments or legislation by not following its own laws.
He said apart from its complete disdain for the laws of the land, government has also not followed judicial orders given by courts of competent jurisdiction.
Emukperuo said on the issue of being in possession of arms, Dasuki was granted bail on self-recognition and the Ministry of Justice did not oppose the application for bail, wondering why they had to still keep him in detention having not opposed the bail application if they knew he was a security risk. “It is a spurious defence conceived in bad faith, and I urge the court to dismiss it,” he pleaded
The federal government is expected to present its statement of defence tomorrow following which a date for judgment would be fixed.
Presiding judge, Justice Friday Nwoke, ordered the defendant counsel to ensure that his two witnesses are in court today (Thursday) for oral evidence.