- Expresses fear failure of ex-president, Dasuki to testify for Metuh may stall trial
Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has given the court bailiff a period of five days to serve former President Goodluck Jonathan, summon.
He also directed that former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, must be made to appear before him.
Abang who is trying former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, summoned Jonathan and Dasuki on Tuesday to testify in the N400 million money laundering case against Metuh by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He added that if personal service became impossible, Metuh can apply to the court for him (Jonathan) to be served the court document through substituted means.
Justice Abang expressed fear that owing to the absence of Dasuki and Jonathan in court to testify for the first defendant, it would be extremely difficult to proceed with the trial.
Similarly, counsel to the prosecution, Sylvanus Tahir, reacting to failure of the courtâ€™s bailiff to serve the subpoena issued against the former president, said until further efforts are made to effect service on Jonathan, â€œWe cannot cross the next bridge.â€
Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, are standing trial on a seven-count charge of money laundering involving alleged cash transaction of $2 million and fraudulent receipt of N400 million meant for procurement of arms from Dasuki, when he was the NSA.
The court had on Tuesday adjourned till wednesday at the instance of the first defendant (Metuh) for the subpoened witnesses, Dasuki and former President Jonathan to be in court to testify for the former PDP spokesman.
However, at the resumed trial wednesday, both Jonathan and Dasuki were visibly absent in Court. While the court was informed of the inability of the bailiff to effect service of the subpoena on Jonathan, no explanation was given on Dasukiâ€™s absence.
Reacting, the judge stated that it was Metuh that applied to compel Dasuki and the former president to appear in court to testify for him, adding that, it was not the court that ordered them to appear to give evidence in the matter.
He said: â€œI did not, on my own compel Dasuki and the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to give evidence in this matter. It is the first defendant that applied for that and not the court.â€
Speaking further on Dasukiâ€™s issue, Abang said there is a proof that the subpoena has been served on the DSS to produce Dasuki in court wednesday to give evidence but the former NSA was not released to do so by the DSS and no reason has been given for that.
While Justice Abang held that the issue would be resolved administratively, he also asked the prosecution counsel to advice the federal government to produce Dasuki in court to testify as he is being held in the custody of the DSS, which is an agency of the federal government.
â€œAs for former President Jonathan, he has not been served and as such, cannot be blamed for not being in court,â€ Justice Abang held and ordered the bailiff of the court to make extra efforts to effect personal service of the subpoena on former President Jonathan.
The court then gave five days from wednesday for the bailiff to effect service on Jonathan, for the law to take its course and added that, if personal service became impossible, Metuh can apply to the court for him (Jonathan) to be served the court document through substituted means.
Earlier, Abang had in a ruling he delivered, struck out the application by Dasuki praying the court to set aside the subpoena served on him to testify on behalf of Metuh.
Justice Abang ruled that having been ordered by the Court of Appeal in Abuja on September 29 , 2017, he lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the motion on merit.
He stated that determining the motion on merit would amount to an attempt to review the judgment of a higher court, the Court of Appeal.
He held that all issues raised by Dasuki through his lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), had become academic since the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the complaints.
According to Abang, it would amount to â€œjudicial anarchyâ€ to hear Dasuki â€™s application on merit.
â€œIf the applicant (Dasuki ) is dissatisfied , he should know what to do and where to go, but certainly not this court,â€ he ruled.
The matter has been adjourned till October 31, 2017 for Dasuki and former President Jonathan to appear in court for their evidence.