Against court order, the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF and minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, yesterday failed to appear at the Federal High Court, Abuja as expected, to explain the rationale behind the house arrest of the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (rtd) in spite of the bail earlier granted him by the court.
Instead, the AGF filed an application dated November 20, asking for an order of the court committing the former NSA to prison pending his trial.
Dasuki was arraigned over criminal offences bordering on unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering, of which he pleaded not guilty.
The trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, on September 1, 2015 had ordered the release of Dasuki’s international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical attention.
The Judge, while ruling on Dasuki’s application for the release of his travel document had held that, in criminal trial, every suspect is presumed innocent and that every Nigerian has the right to access medication anywhere of his choice.
He ordered Dasuki to return his international passport back to the Deputy Chief Registrar, Litigation of the Court within 72 hours after his return from the three weeks medical trip.
The court also reviewed the bail conditions earlier granted the former NSA; that he should produce a surety who will take his place should he refuse to return back to the country to face his trial.
Alternatively, the Judge held that any of the Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, representing Dasuki can write an undertaking to produce him in court after the expiration of the three weeks grace given to him to travel abroad for treatment.
But, at the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, DPPF, and the prosecution counsel, Mohammed Diri applied for an order of the court revoking Dasuki’s bail and to commit him to prison pending his trial.
Diri hinged his application on seven grounds, one of which is that Dasuki is undergoing investigation by the committee by the government to audit the procurement of arms/equipment in the Armed Forces and Defence Sector from 2007 to date and that an intern report of the committee showed that over $2 billion was allegedly embezzled and that Dasuki’s presence is required to assist in further investigation.
“That there is a federal government directive for the arrest of all those indicted by the report, including the defendant (Dasuki) and that the ongoing investigation which borders on money laundering against the defendant has not been concluded and there is fear that investigation might be tempered with on account of foreign visit by the respondent before the completion of investigation”, Diri stated in the application.
He added also that the ailment for which permission was given to Dasuki to travel to the United Kingdom for treatment can be properly treated in the National Hospital, Abuja and other teaching hospitals in Nigeria.
Another ground for prosecution’s application was that, there is an intelligence report that Dasuki has concluded plans to take the advantage of the court order releasing his international passport to escape justice and tamper with ongoing investigations.
Joseph Daudu, SAN, lead counsel to Dasuki objected to the prosecution’s application and reminded the court that yesterday’s business was for the federal government to explain to the court why the order of the court was violated by the Operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, by laying siege on Dasuki’s house after the court had permitted him to travel abroad for three weeks for medical attention.
Daudu said the essence of the preliminary objection by the defence is to deny the federal government any indulgence until the order of the court is obeyed and that Dasuki’s absence in court was justified as he has not violated any of his bail conditions.
Disturbed by Dasuki’s continuous absence in court when the case against him was being heard, Diri had earlier asked the court to order that Dasuki be present in court anytime the case against him will be heard.
Justice Ademola therefore adjourned till November 26 to rule on the applications.
Nigerian Pilot recalled that Dasuki sued the federal government over breach of his fundamental rights.
The suit by Dasuki, who has been placed under house arrest by operatives of DSS in spite of bail and permission of the court for him to travel abroad for treatment, is seeking enforcement of his fundamental human rights to dignity and security of his life.
Dasuki wants the court to order federal government and its agents, especially DSS operatives to vacate his house located at 13, John Kadija Street, Asokoro with immediate effect.
Nigerian Pilot also recalls that the federal government had preferred criminal charges of unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering against Dasuki at the Federal High Court.
He denied the charges and was granted bail.