By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North, & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — As details of huge funds disbursed by the Office of the National Security Adviser under Col. Sambo Dasuki continue to surface, indications emerged last night that the embattled security czar is set to expose more top Nigerian leaders who benefited from the funds.
A source close to the former NSA, who was docked yesterday, told Vanguard that Dasuki who was arraigned yesterday alongside others on a fresh 19-count charge was ready to speak up on how the funds earmarked for his office was disbursed with details of top serving and retired Nigerian leaders who benefitted immensely from the money, which is now a subject of litigation.
Meanwhile, former Minister of State, Finance, Bashir Yuguda ,former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, former Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Salisu, Sagir Attahiru and a company the EFCC insisted was used to divert huge sums of money from the office of the NSA prior to the 2015 general elections, Dahaltu Investment Limited will be arraigned today even as Chairman Emeritus of Daar Communications was admitted to bail yesterday.
Dasuki to expose more
According to the source close to the former NSA, it had become necessary for Dasuki to expose the first in the series of the top beneficiaries, which include former heads of state and presidents, who were bought bullet-proof Sports Utility Vehicles by the ONSA with funds approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Although Dasuki is keeping the names of the beneficiaries of the car gifts to himself, the source told Vanguard that he was ready to spill the beans at the appropriate time, saying that the list will shock Nigerians.
According to the Dasuki aide, all the former presidents and heads of state got one exotic car from the embattled NSA and did not find out the source of the funding. The officer explained that of all the former presidents, one of them who has been very vociferous demanded two of the SUVs from the ONSA, who grudgingly obliged him.
The former head of state, it was gathered, had explained to Dasuki that he needed one of the vehicles to be kept for him in Abuja and another to be stationed in Lagos to ease his movement to the two main Nigerian cities. The officer however refused to give the cost of the exotic cars bought for the former heads of state and president, saying that the details could be obtained from the ONSA.
“What is coming will shock Nigerians and many of them will get to know if indeed Dasuki used the money to enrich himself as being bandied in many quarters. As a law-abiding NSA, he had to carry out the instructions handed over to him by the Presidency and nothing more,” the aide said.
“It is also instructive to note that those who are now blaming Dasuki for carrying out his assigned duties and calling for his head actually benefitted immensely from the security vote, which was domiciled in his office. The truth of the matter is that all over the world security votes are used for various reasons to bring about national peace and stability and Dasuki could not have done otherwise,” his aide said.
Dasuki, others plead not guilty to fresh charges
Meanwhile, Dasuki was arraigned before an Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama yesterday alongside his former Finance Director, Shuaibu Salisu and others on a fresh 19-count charge. Dasuki who was accused of allegedly diverting over N13.6 billion from the national treasury had stated clearly that all the funds spent by him were duly approved by former President Jonathan and that he acted at all times in the overall national interest of Nigeria and its peoples.
Others arraigned with them were, former Executive Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Commission, NNPC, Aminu Baba-Kusa, as well as his companies, Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referal Hospital Limited. The accused persons were alleged to have illegally diverted over N13.6billion from the national treasury.
EFCC told the court that it was the accused persons that supervised the unlawful disbursement of billions of Naira from different bank accounts belonging to the office of the NSA. Bulk of the funds were allegedly withdrawn from an account the office of the NSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria. According to the anti-graft agency, the funds were distributed to delegates that attended the presidential primary election the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held in Abuja in 2014, a process that saw the emergence of ex-President Jonathan as sole presidential candidate of the party.
Part of the allegedly looted funds were said to have been shared to members of the House of Representatives in the PDP to facilitate their re-election bid. The EFCC, among other things, alleged that the sum of N13.570 billion, being money for an “agreement”, between Dasuki and the ex-Director of Finance in the office of the NSA, Salisu, was looted from the national treasury.
They were said to have transferred a total sum of N1.45b to Acacia Holdings Limited’s account for special prayers; N2.1b given to DAAR Investment and Holding Company Limited for publicity; N170m for a four-bedroom duplex; N380m to support re-election of members of the House of Representatives; and N750m paid into Reliance Referral Hospital Limited’s account for special prayers.
Besides, EFCC said its investigations revealed that N670m was paid to a certain publisher, N260m transferred to Tony Anenih and N345million traced to a former President of the Senate, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
The Commission said it has not been able to trace the ex-Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Hon. Waripamowei Dudafa, who it said was “on the run”.
Accused plead not guilty
Nevertheless, all the accused persons, yesterday, pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf fixed today to hear their separate applications for bail. Prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had shortly after the accused persons entered their plea yesterday, urged the court to set a date for their trial to commence.
He told the court that he would need time to respond to some of the bail applications he said were just served on him. On his part, Dasuki’s lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, said he filed a summon for his client to be released on bail.
“My brother silk just served me a counter-affidavit this morning. We had discussions with him, subject to my lords’ convenience, we shall be asking to return tomorrow so we can respond to the counter-affidavit. It will also enable the prosecution to respond to bail applications from the other accused persons”, Raji submitted.
By consent of all the lawyers, Justice Yusuf adjourned the matter till today. The accused persons were thereafter returned to the detention facility of the EFCC.
Yuguda, Bafarawa to be arraigned today
In another development, the EFCC, will today arraign former Minister of State, Finance, Bashir Yuguda and former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, before Justice Peter Affen of the same high court.
The duo will be arraigned alongside ex-NSA, Dasuki, former Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Salisu, Sagir Attahiru and a company the EFCC insisted was used to divert huge sums of money from the office of the NSA prior to the 2015 general elections, Dahaltu Investment Limited.
While granting EFCC leave to dock the accused persons on a 22-count criminal charge, Justice Affen said he was satisfied that there is a prima facie case that established a nexus between the accused persons and the charge before the court, dated December 8.
Earlier, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that the accused persons diverted funds budgeted for the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria. He said the funds were sequentially withdrawn from an account of the office of the NSA with CBN and other financial institutions.
“The funds were diverted for political campaign and shared to third parties who have nothing to do with the NSA”.
The EFCC lawyer told the court that the accused persons have made confessional statements.
“My lord, we are talking about monies running into billions of Naira”, Jacobs added.
Whereas two of the charges EFCC preferred against Dasuki yesterday read: “That you Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki whilst being National Security Adviser and Shaibu Salisu, whilst being the Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the National Security Adviser and Hon. Waripamowei Dudafa (now at large) whilst being Senior Special Assistant , Domestic Affairs to the President on or about 27th November,2014, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court entrusted with dominion over certain properties to wit: the sum of N10billion being part of the funds in the account of the National Security Adviser with the CBN, the equivalent of which sum you received from the CBN in foreign currencies to wit: $47million and €5.6million Euros committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property when you claimed to have distributed same to the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Presidential Primary Election delegates and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Vol.4, LFN 2004.
“That you Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki whilst being National Security Adviser and Shaibu Salisu, whilst being the Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA) between 22nd January 2015 and 19th March 2015 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court entrusted with dominion over certain properties to wit: N2,120,000,000 which was in the account of National Security Adviser with the CBN committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property by remitting the said sum into the account of DAAR Investment and Holding Company Limited controlled by one Dr. Raymond Dokpesi for the funding of media activities for the 2015 Presidential Election Campaign for the PDP and you thereby committed an offence punishable under under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Vol.4, LFN 2004”.
Some of the charges in the case before Justice Affen reads: “That you Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), whilst being the National Security Adviser and Shuaibu Salisu whilst being the Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the NSA, between 14th April, 2014, and 7th May, 2015, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, entrusted with dominion over certain properties to wit: an aggregate sum of N3,350,000,000 (Three Billion, Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) being part of the funds in the account of the office of the NSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria, committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said properties when you transfered same to the account of Dalhatu Investment Limited with the United Bank of Africa Plc. purporting same to be payment for the supply of security equipment and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Vol. 4, LFN 2004.
“That you Dalhatu Investment Limited, Sagir Attahiru and Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, between 14th April, 2014 and 17th May, 2015, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, dishonestly received stolen property, to wit: an aggregate sum of N3,350,000,000 (Three Billion, Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) into your account with the United Bank of Africa Plc from the account of the office of the NSA with the CBN, which belonged to the Federal Government of Nigeria and knowing the said sum to be stolen property but purporting same to be payment for the supply of security equipment and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 317 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Vol. 4, LFN 2004.
Dokpesi secures N400m bail
Also, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, granted Chairman Emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi , bail in the sum of N400milion. Dokpesi who was docked before the court on December 11, is answering to a six-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
He is facing trial alongside his firm, DAAR Investment and Holdings Ltd, owners of African Independent Television, AIT, and Raypower FM. EFCC, in the charge signed by its Deputy Director, Legal and Prosecution, Mr. Aliyu Yusuf, alleged that Dokpesi received about N2.1billion from the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, for PDP’s presidential media campaign.
According to the charge, the funds were released to the accused persons between October 2014 and March 19, 2015. The funds were allegedly transferred from an account in the office of the NSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN , to a FirstBank Nigeria Plc account owned by DAAR Investment and Holding Company Limited. The prosecution maintained that the transaction was in breach of section 58 (4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and punishable under section 58 (6) and 7 of the same Act, as well as under section 17 (b) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
Dokpesi had since pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as the court slated February 17, 18 and March 2 and 3, 2016, to begin full-blown hearing on the matter. He had through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozehkome, SAN, pleaded the court to grant him bail on self recognizance or on the most liberal terms. His prayer was however refused yesterday by trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole.
Ruling on the bail application yesterday, Justice Kolawole ordered Dokpesi to produce two persons that will stand surety for him. He directed that the two sureties must deposit N200m each. According to the court, one of the sureties must be a public servant, either serving or retired, not below the level of a Director.
The trial judge stressed that in the event that the surety is a serving Director, the person must produce an identification letter from his or her boss. If retired, the person must produce a gazetted document depicting that he or she was formerly a director. Besides, the court held that the second surety could be an entrepreneur who must submit three years tax clearance, including that of 2015.
Justice Kolawole maintained that either of the two sureties must tender the title deeds of a landed property in any part of Nigeria, the value of which must not be below N200milion. The sureties, the court said, must also depose to an affidavit of means, submit two recent passport photographs to the Deputy Chief Registrar, DCR, Administration, of the high court.
Dokpesi was further directed to surrender his international passport, “If already in custody of the EFCC, it should be delivered within 24 hours to the DCR of the Federal High Court in charge of Litigation”, the court ordered.
The court dismissed the objection EFCC raised against Dokpesi’s bail request. Justice Kolawole held that the charge against the accused person is a bailable one.
“No court of law can rely on proof of evidence to refuse bail to a defendant charged with indictable felony. To do so will amount to a violation of the constitution”.
The judge said it was not enough for the EFCC to hinge its opposition to the bail application on the fact that it is currently investigating a fresh N8.4billion fraud involving the accused person.
“This court cannot at this stage indulge itself in speculation as to what the outcome of the fresh investigation will be”, Justice Kolawole added.
Noting that the charge against Dokpesi could only attract a maximum of seven years jail term upon conviction, the judge, said the most crucial factor was the prospect that the defendant would be available to stand his trial. The judge said the anti-graft agency failed to prove that Dokpesi posed flight risk.
Moreover, he observed that though EFCC had in its counter-affidavit, alleged that Dokpesi looted funds meant for the purchase of arms for the military, he said that none of the six-count charge made mention of such allegation.
“Which of the six count charges mentioned any issue with regard to diversion of funds meant for security? None of the charge said so. But I don’t want to go further lest I be accused of descending into the arena.”
He further observed that the alleged fresh offence was committed since 2012 , describing EFCC’s allegation that the accused person will interfere with its witnesses as “merely speculative”. The judge further queried why the prosecuting agency charged only Dokpesi and his company even though it alleged that he connived with some officials in the office of the NSA to perpetuate the fraud.
Justice Kolawole said he could not accede to EFCC’s request for Dokpesi to be allowed to remain in detention pending accelerated hearing of the case against him. The judge said from experience, he was sure the trial could last for more than 36 months.
Meantime, before adjourning the case for trial, Justice Kolawole, ordered that Dokpesi should be remanded in prison custody pending perfection of bail conditions. The court, while giving EFCC the nod to go ahead with its fresh investigation, however directed that Dokpesi should always be notified in writing through his counsel, at least 48 hours, any day he is wanted for questioning.
Specifically, the court held that such investigation should commence by 10am and not go beyond 18:30pm. The court warned EFCC against re-arresting the accused person under the guise that it is conducting fresh investigation.
“This is to ensure that the bail is not rendered illusionary. If there is need for the EFCC to keep the accused person beyond 18:30pm, it must file an ex-parte for leave to be granted by this court.
“This is to ensure that no agency of government sidetracks the efficacy of court orders. The government should not by its own procedure adopt measures or encourage any agency to abuse its powers. To do so will in itself amount to gross corruption of the due process of the law,” Justice Kolawole added.
EFCC had alleged that the transaction between Dokpesi and the office of the NSA was in breach of Section 58 (4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and punishable under section 58 (6) and 7 of the same Act, as well as under section 17 (b) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
The commission said it was probing Dokpesi over about N8.4billion he collected from the Federal Government when Nigeria hosted Under-17 World Cup in 2012.
It alleged that though it was the world football body, FIFA, that awarded viewing right for the under-age tournament, Dokpesi, still collected “billions of Naira from the Nigerian government”.
“My lord there are still other issues, we believe that if granted bail, the accused person has the capacity to scuttle ongoing investigation into the matter”, EFCC lawyer, Jacobs submitted.
He argued that in granting bail, the court must consider the gravity of offence committed by the accused person, weight of the proof of evidence and the possible punishment the offence could attract.
“If money meant for the fight against insurgency is deployed for political campaign, could a person that took such action be allowed to walk freely? We must show that we are ready to fight corruption in this country.
“He is even asking for bail on self-recognizance whereas a common man who is charged before a Magistrate’s Court for a simple offence is denied bail.
“I therefore humbly urge my lord to refuse this bail application “, Rotimi argued.
Dokpesi had through his lawyer, informed the court that he was scheduled to go for a medical treatment in the United Kingdom before he was arrested by the EFCC on December 1.
Ozehkome tendered as evidence, an appointment letter dated November 30, which was given to Dokpesi by his doctor in the UK.
Aside the letter which showed that Dokpesi was originally scheduled to undergo medical examination at the London hospital on December 4, Ozehkome, equally tendered a British Airways reservation ticket showing that his client would have departed Nigeria a day before his appointment.
Ozehkome told the court that EFCC had on December 3, granted Dokpesi administrative bail, only for it to be cancelled after the accused person had perfected all the conditions that were given to him.