Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf of an Abuja High Court and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Joseph Dauda SAN and counsel to former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), monday engaged in uncomplimentary verbal exchange in the open court over the trial of Dasuki for alleged diversion of $2.1billion arms fund diversion.
The trial slated for monday could not however go ahead as senior lawyers present in court persuaded the judge to adjourn the trial to calm down the frayed nerves.
Dasuki through Dauda had filed a new application to consolidate the charges against him in two Abuja High Courts.
He claimed that the charges in the two courts constituted abuse of court process because they have same facts and figure and that he would be prejudiced if the two courts try him simultaneously.
However, immediately Daudu introduced the motion, Justice Baba Yusuf became angry and challenged him on what his client would suffer should the two courts go ahead with the trial.
The judge lambasted Daudu for employing delay tactics to shield Dasuki from trial, insisting that the tactic would not work in his own court.
Daudu’s insistence that the motion be determined one way or the other before the trial would begin further provoked the judge who vowed not to give any indulgence to Daudu or move to delay the trial.
“If you think the mission of this new motion is to delay the trial, I can assure you that it has already failed. I know your antecedents in this type of cases, filing frivolous, baseless and un-warranted motions to frustrate the court and trial of your client.
“I know the next motion you will file will be to ask me to withdraw or disqualify myself from this case, I will not succumb to your old fashion of doing things. It will not work in my court.
“I have over-indulged you and I am ready to go ahead with this trial today. I cannot be coming here to waste my time, I have granted you enough respect, this application is a disrespect to me.
“I have known you for certain things, if you have a court where people will dance to your tune, go to that court. I am not ready to dance to your tune.
“You are here with a dishonest motive as far as this motion is concern. The whole target is to frustrate the trial, but you will fail.
Tension rose to the peak when counsel to the federal government Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) announced to the court the he respected Daudu a lot as a senior colleague, a role model and former NBA President and ended up describing Daudu’s action with the motion as very unfortunate.
Attempt by Daudu to complain of insult from Jacobs to the Judge was rebuffed when Justice Baba Yusuf said “for your information a junior counsel can advise a senior one and that is my position.
“I have been accommodating all sort of nonsense, yet you are not ready to respect me. You are disgracing me as one who does not know what he is doing here.
“You are subjecting me and this court to public disgrace. When you come to court people are watching and we must behave, that is my advice for you.
At this point a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) cut-in and prayed the judge to grant adjournment “for us to sort out ourselves.”
Olujimi said: “I have never seen your lordship in this kind of situation and please adjourn to enable us sort out things.”
Justice Baba Yusuf grudgingly adjourned the matter till June 15 for hearing of the motion.
Dasuki had asked the court to consolidate the two criminal charges bordering on alleged corruption and breach of trust brought against him by the federal government in the course of his official duties.
In the fresh motion, the former NSA claimed that the trial in two different courts on the same issues and facts was unconstitutional and prejudicial to his right to fair trial by the court.
Dasuki who is standing trial on allegation of alleged misappropriation of $2.1billion along with four others before Justice Baba Yusuf insisted that the charges against him by the complainant on the same issue constituted a gross abuse of court process.
However, counsel to federal government, Mr. Rotimi Jacob (SAN) objected to the motion on the ground that it was a ploy to frustrate and delay trial and urged Justice Baba Yusuf to proceed with the trial.
However, Daudu urged the court to decide the motion one way or the other before the trial can commence because fundamental constitutional issues have been raised in the motion that required the termination first before anything could be done.
Other defendants in the charge did not object to hearing the motion prompting Justice Baba Yusuf to adjourn till June 15, 2016 for hearing.
In the motion brought pursuant to Section 6 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 1, 208, 396, 491 and 492 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Dasuki claimed that the two charges revolved around the same set of transaction and facts on the alleged funds misappropriation and the breach of trust.