By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), on Tuesday asked the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to suspend his trial indefinitely until the Federal Government obeys orders of Court of competent jurisdiction which granted him bail.
Dasuki who made the request in a fresh application to the court Tuesday is also challenging the competence of lead prosecution counsel to continue with the trial.
The Federal government is prosecuting Dasuki over allegations of illegal possessions of firearms and money laundering. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on bail but the government has continued to keep him in custody even after perfecting the bail conditions.
The refusal of government to recognise his bail prompted him to boycott his trial. However, trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, held that trial would continue in the absence of Dasuki and adjourned for definite hearing of the matter.
At the resumed hearing Tuesday, Adeola Adedipe, a lawyer in the team of the former NSA, informed the court of an application filed challenging the competence of the prosecuting counsel.
The application was bought pursuant to Sections 1(1) & (2), 104, 105, 106, 159(2), 268, 491 & 492(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015; and Sections 6(6), 35, 16, 37, 41, 42, 105 & 174 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
By the application dated December 10, Dasuki prayed the court for an order to adjourn sine die, his trial and or further trial, pending compliance by the complainant with the court’s judgment (per Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu] of 2nd July 2018, in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, between Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki Rtd. v. The DG SSS & 2 Ors.
Dasuki also asked the court to make an order directing the lead counsel for the complainant (Oladipo Okpeseyi SAN) to produce and submit to the court, the direction of the Attorney General of the Federation on the court’s judgment (per Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu) of 2nd July 2018, in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, between Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki Rtd. v. The DG SSS & 2 Ors.
Adedipe submitted that the trial cannot go on because of the application challenging the competence of the prosecution counsel Oladipupo Okpeseyi SAN to continue with the trial.
Reacting, Okpeseyi told the court that even though he was served with the defendant’s motion Tuesday morning in court, it would still not affect the already slated definite hearing because the motion was not ripe for hearing.
“My lord, on the last adjourned date of November 19, this court scheduled December 11, for commencement of trial; we have our witness in court and ready to proceed”.
Responding, Dasuki’s lawyer in urging the court to adjourn the trial, said the court can ‘suo motu’ raise the matter since it had formed part of the court’s record so as to avoid a situation where it could have acted in vain if further trial was conducted Tuesday.
Adedipe further submitted that the issue raised by the defendant on the competence or otherwise of the lead counsel in the case to further prosecute or conduct further trial of the matter was a threshold issue as such the court should hear the motion first before continuation of the definite hearing scheduled for the day.
In a bench ruling, Justice Mohammed admitted that it was correct to say that the matter was adjourned for definite hearing as well as correct to say that the defendant’s application was not ripe for hearing.
However, the court held that if it continues to hear the matter, it then means that the court had automatically heard and rejected the application.
While aligning with the defence that the issue raised is a threshold issue, Justice Mohammed consequently adjourned the matter to January 9, 2019 for hearing of application.