By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA -The Solicitor-General of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Taiwo Abidogun, yesterday, told the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court that the new Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, is yet to assume office.
Consequently, the SGF, yesterday, persuaded Justice Ademola Adeniyi to extend the summon he issued for the AGF to appear in court to explain why the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), has remained under house arrest despite a valid court order, till next week Monday.
Malami, SAN, was among the 36 Ministers that were inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari last week Wednesday.
Justice Adeniyi had in a ruling on Friday, held that he must appear in court to explain why an order the court made on November 3, which permitted Dasuki to travel abroad for medical treatment, was violated at the behest of the federal government.
The court summon followed complaint by Dasuki’s lawyers, led by Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, that armed operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, had since November 4, barred their client from stepping out of his house.
Daudu told the court that the operatives have continued to lay siege at Dasuki’s residence at No 13 John Kadiya Street, Asokoro District, Abuja, a development he said made it impossible for him to travel to the United Kingdom to take care of his budding cancer.
A senior government lawyer that appeared before the court at the last adjourned date, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, had maintained that the former NSA , who is facing a five-count criminal charge, is also being investigated over his alleged complicity in a fresh money laundering scandal.
Dissatisfied with the reason behind the siege on Dasuki’s home, Justice Adeniyi, while accusing the DSS of acting in total disrespect to a valid court order, ordered the AGF to appear before him.
“I have made an order which has to be obeyed and the order is to the effect that the accused be allowed to go abroad as from November 4 to treat his ailment within three weeks and return to the court on November 26 for his trial in the charges brought against him.
“I stand by my order, nobody is saying that the man should not be investigated, but the order must be obeyed and I am not ready to bend on the order.
“I even varied the bail conditions to accommodate a surety to ensure that the accused comes back to answer the charges against him.
“No big deal in any new investigation, it is even a small matter to the earlier charge.
“I do not want this issue to escalate because it is attracting global attention and I know what that means, so my order must not be flouted.
“If you have any further issue with him, let him go for his medical checkup and come back. It is the duty of all Nigerians to ensure that court orders are obeyed.
“I am not too happy with what is happening. It is an act of lawlessness and I believe it is not too early for the AGF to look into this mess.
“The AGF has to come to my court immediately. It is in the best interest of the nation, so that the scenario will not continue.
“It is important that the AGF, being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation be present in this court on Monday”, the Judge held.
However,at the resumed sitting on the matter yesterday, the SGF, Mr. Abidogun, told the court that AGF will formally assume office on Wednesday.
He therefore prayed the court for an adjournment, saying the AGF would be briefed on Dasuki’s case between Thursday and Friday.
Stressing that the Federal Ministry of Justice has tremendous respect for the court and the rule of law and will not do anything to undermine the judiciary, Abidogun, said the AGF would appear before the court on Monday.
Considering that his request for adjournment was not opposed by Dasuki’s lawyers, Justice Adeniyi, yesterday, extended the summon on the AGF till Monday.
Meanwhile, in the fundamental right enforcement application he filed pursuant to section 36(5) 37 and 41 of the 1999 constitution, as well as, sections 1(1) and (2) and 266 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, Dasuki, alleged that his life was under threat.
He prayed the court to uphold his rights to dignity and security of life.
More so, he sought a mandatory order compelling the federal government and its agents, especially the operatives of the DSS, to vacate his house.
He further applied for an extension of the three weeks medical leave that the court originally granted to him.
It will be recalled that a former governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Boni Haruna, who stood surety for Dasuki, was invited for questioning by the DSS immediately he left the court on November 3.
Haruna had entered an undertaking before the court to be prosecuted should Dasuki run away while on medical leave abroad.
FG had in opposition to Dasuki’s bid to travel out of Nigeria, contended that the National Hospital in Abuja was well equipped to handle whatever ailment he has.
In the substantive charge before the court, the government, alleged that the erstwhile NSA kept in his possession, funds that were proceeds of an unlawful act, an offence the FG said was contrary to section 15 (2)(d) of Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
FG alleged that he was on July 17, 2015, at his Abuja residence, found to be in possession of various range of firearms without requisite license, an offence punishable under section 27 (1)(a) of the Firearms Act Cap F28 LFN 2004.
He was further accused of retaining the sums of $40,000, N5millon and another $20,000 in the same house and same date, contrary to section 15 (2)(d) of Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
FG told the trial court that the ex-NSA had on July 16, 2015, at his residence at Sultan Abubakar Road and Sabon Birni Road, Sokoto State, retained another $150,000 and N37.6m being part of proceedings of unlawful act, contrary to Section 15 (3) of the Money Laundering Act 2011.
It listed the alleged illegal arms it found at Dasuki’s residence in Abuja as five Tavor Assault Rifles, 1 Macro Uzi with serial No 60244(Rifle), 20 magazines (Ammunition), 1 packet of MOD (Ministry of Defence) APG calibre gun, Luger No 033375 ( gun), small magazine containing 16 rounds of ammunition, and bigger magazine containing live rounds of ammunition.
Nevertheless, Dasuki who was NSA under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, had since pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.