By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— Former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), yesterday, secured fresh bail from an Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama.
In a ruling yesterday, trial judge, Justice Peter Affen granted him bail, including former Minister of State (Finance), Bashir Yuguda; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and his son, Sagir Attahiru, to the tune of N250million each, with two sureties in like sum.
Equally granted bail on the same amount was former Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu. The court stressed that one of the sureties must be a retired or serving director in the federal civil service.
It said the second surety must be an owner of a landed property within the Federal Capital Territory, which value must not be below N250million.
The surety, according to the court, must tender title deeds of the said property to the Registrar of the High Court for authentication.
Besides, Justice Affen held that lawyers to the accused persons must vouch for the character of each of the sureties, who he said must also depose to an affidavit of means before the court.
Moreso, the court yesterday ordered all the accused persons to surrender their passports, even as it warned them against travelling out of its jurisdiction without express permission.
“Pending the perfection of all the bail conditions, the accused persons are to be remanded in prison custody,” Justice Affen held.
The accused persons are answering to a 22-count criminal charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
They were alleged to have connived and diverted over N13.6billion from the office of the NSA, prior to the 2015 general elections.
A company the anti-graft agency said served as conduit pipe for the alleged illegal diversion of the funds, Dahaltu Investment Limited, was also charged before the court as the fourth accused person.
Court adjourns hearing to Feb 2, 3
Meantime, Justice Affen yesterday, slated February 2 and 3 to commence full hearing in the case against the accused persons.
It will be recalled that all the accused persons had last week Tuesday, pleaded not guilty to the entire 22-count charge, even as they separately prayed the court to okay their release on bail pending hearing and determination of the case against them.
They predicated their bail applications on provisions of Sections 158, 162, 165, 167 and 168 (b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, as well as Section 36(5) (6) of the 1999 Constitution.
The accused persons, through their lawyers, insisted that the charge slammed against them by the anti-graft agency were bailable.
Whereas Dasuki, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, urged the court to grant him bail on self recognition, Bafarawa and his son, Sagir, prayed the court to grant them bail on health grounds.
Meanwhile, Dasuki who is facing three different charges before three different Judges, had on Friday last week also secured N250million bail before Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf who is trying him over another19-count charge bordering on alleged N32 bilion fraud.
Justice Ademola Adeniyi of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had in relation to another five-count charge involving alleged $2.1billion fraud, granted the ex-NSA bail on self recognition.
While persuading the court to release him on bail, the former Sokoto State governor, Barafawa, bemoaned that his health had deteriorated badly owing to his continued detention at the EFCC.
Likewise, his son, Sagir, pleaded the court for bail, saying he has ulcer.
Both father and son addressed the court through two different Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Chief J.O. Olatoke and Mr. H. O. Afolabi.
Similarly, the third accused, Salisu, prayed the court for bail, saying he has been in detention for over 31 days.
However, their bail motions were vehemently opposed by the EFCC which urged the court to ignore them and order accelerated hearing of the substantive charges against them.
The commission, through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that the defendants have wide influence and affluence to intimidate, harass and influence the proposed prosecution witnesses if released on bail.
EFCC insisted that the defendants will escape from Nigeria once out of detention.
It told the court that the applicants were also being investigated in respect of other criminal allegations.
The prosecuting agency, via an affidavit deposed to by one of its lead detectives, Mr. Hassan Saidu, told the court that the accused persons acquired “a large volume of assets with the proceeds of crimes”.
Saidu said his team are presently tracing the assets. “If released on bail the applicants will interfere with the assets tracing activities”, he added.
Money transfered outside Nigeria
He further told the court that investigations revealed that the accused persons transferred large sums of money outside Nigeria, saying they used part of the funds and acquired several assets in Dubai and London.
“That the prosecution is prepared to prove its case within the shortest possible time if the application is refused and the court orders accelerated hearing”, Saidu averred.
Jacobs argued that it would not be in the interest of justice for the court to admit any of the accused persons to bail.
After listening to all the parties on Wednesday last week, Justice Affen adjourned his ruling till yesterday.
EFCC had in the substantive charge before the court, alleged that the accused persons diverted funds budgeted for the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.
It told the trial court that 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 campaigns and shared to third parties who have nothing to do with the NSA,” the anti-graft agency insisted.
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.
Two of the charges against Bafarawa and the others read:
“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 April 14, 2014, and May 7, 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 April 14, 2014 and May 17, 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.