By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), on Tuesday said he would no longer appear in court for his trial on alleged illegal possession of firearms and money laundering until the Federal Government obeys valid court orders admitting him to bail.
Apart from the charge of illegal possession of firearms, he is also standing trial for alleged breach of public trust, diversion of public funds meant for the purchase of arms to fight Boko Haram insurgency, amongst others.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was released on bail after perfecting conditions attached to his bail.
However, the Federal Government through the Department of State Service (DSS) has continued to hold him in custody, forcing him to attend his trials from detention.
When the matter came up Tuesday before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Dasuki was absent and his lawyer, Victor Okwudiri, drew the court’s attention to a letter written and signed by the defendant, stating his intention to stop appearing in court for his trial until the prosecution obeys the orders releasing him on bail.
The letter dated November 12, 2018 and addressed to the Court’s Registrar, was titled, ‘Unabated Persecution of Mohammed Sambo (rtd) by the Federal Government of Nigeria’.
Dasuki in the letter asked the court to: “absolve him of any obligation of appearing at his trial, since the office of the State Security Service, an agent of government detaining him, has also refused to respect the various court orders for his bail”.
The former NSA stated that he was granted bail at different occasions by various courts in all the charges he is standing trial but the Federal Government had refused to obey the orders.
According to Dasuki, he was re-arrested at Kuje Prison in Abuja on December 29, 2015, shortly after he perfected his bail in respect of the three sets of charges filed against him before different judges.
Reacting, counsel to the prosecution, Dipo Okpeseyi SAN, however, urged the court to order that Dasuki be tried in absentia.
Okpeseyi predicated his prayers on the grounds that the cases for which the former NSA had been denied bail were independent of the instant case and described the defendant’s action as an affront to the court.
He lamented that while the prosecution was ready to proceed with the trial, the absence of the defendant has again stalled the day’s proceedings.
In his ruling, trial Judge, Justice Mohammed, held that the court will not grant the prosecution’s request to proceed with the trial in absentia, unless the prosecution depose to an affidavit accusing the defence of wilfully avoiding the court.
Justice Mohammed noted that, the court had in its previous ruling on April 10 settled the issue of Dasuki’s alleged refusal to attend court hearing.
The judge further said the decision requested by the prosecution can only follow the applicant’s compliance with the ruling of the court on April 10.
However, Justice Mohammed ordered the defence to properly communicate the court, for the letter to be included in its record.
According to the judge, the court is a court of record which does not accept direct communication from parties.
He subsequently adjourned the matter till November 19, 2018.