Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday re-ordered the Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS) to produce former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd) in court today to testify in the ongoing trial of former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh.
Abang, however, stepped down on the subpoena issued against former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on the ground that he (Jonathan) was yet to be served with the subpoena personally as required by the law.
The judge however said Dasuki may not be compelled to testify in the trial until his motion, praying for adjournment, is fully determined by the court.
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 at its last sitting adjourned till yesterday at the instance of the first defendant (Metuh) for the subpoenaed witnesses, Dasuki and President Jonathan, to be in court to testify for the former PDP spokesman.
However, at the resumed trial yesterday, both Jonathan and Dasuki were again absent in court. While the court was informed of the inability of the bailiff to effect personal service of the subpoena on Jonathan, the DSS or its representative was not in court to explain Dasukiâ€™s absence.
Dasuki had filed a motion challenging the decision of the court which last week turned down his request to set aside the subpoena issued against him by the court.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, Dasuki, in a fresh motion, prayed the court to adjourn the execution of the subpoena issued against him, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal he filed at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
In the fresh motion brought pursuant to order 5 Rule 10 and 11, Dasuki, through his counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji ( SAN), submitted that having lodged an appeal at the appellate court, it is incumbent on the lower court to allow the appellate court to determine the matter before executing the subpoena against him.
Raji said record of proceedings has already been compiled and transmitted to the Appeal Court, adding that Dasukiâ€™s appeal had been entered and issued with a number as required by law.
The senior advocate further stated that a letter had been written to the presiding Justice of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, praying for a departure from the rule and for an accelerated hearing of the appeal.
He stressed that it is in the best interest of justice for the high court to adjourn the execution of the subpoena against Dasuki.
Raji also urged the court to expunge the remarks of the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, in which he alleged that Dasuki vowed not to appear in court; from the court record on the ground, it was hearsay evidence.
He told Justice Abang that apart from the fact that the prosecution was quoting another source on the evidence, â€œthe evidence itself is incriminating, damaging, and not admissible under the Evidence Act.â€
Raji pleaded with the Judge to hesitate in issuing bench warrant against the Director General of DSS on subpoena to Dasuki on the ground that Dasuki had placed necessary document before the judge to ascertain that he (Dasuki) is already before the court of appeal to challenge the competence of the subpoena.
On the case of Jonathan who was absent at the trial, his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome ( SAN), informed the court of an application filed by the former president, praying the court to wholly set aside the subpoena order against him.
The court had on October 23, at the instance of Metuh, issued a subpoena to compel Jonathan to appear in court for the purpose of giving evidence in his trial on an alleged corruption.
But, Ozekhome, apart from praying for the setting aside of the subpoena, also asked the court to order Metuh to deposit in the court custody a sum of N1 billion in line with the provision of Section 241 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act ( ACJA), 2015, for him to appear in court.
Jonathan, in the motion filed on his behalf by Ozekhome, explained that the N1 billion is for his travelling expenses and those of his security personnel from his home town, Utuoke, in Bayelsa State to Abuja and also for logistics and tight provision of security throughout the period of his stay in Abuja
He urged the court to void the subpoena issued against him.
However, the subpoena against Jonathan was stepped down by the court following evidence from the court registrar that Jonathan had not been served with the document personally as required by the law.
According to the court registrar, the house of the former president in Abuja was contacted by the bailiff of the court and that the bailiff was told that Jonathan had travelled out of the country and is being expected back in the country anytime in November.
In his bench ruling, Justice Abang asked the DSS boss to produce Dasuki in court today, while the subpoena on the former president was stepped down due to non-service.
The Judge said Metuh, who sought to invite the former president to testify for him, knows what to do in the area of substituted service as allowed by law.
The matter was adjourned to today for hearing of both Dasuki and Jonathanâ€™s motions.