By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA – The embattled former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd, Monday, failed to persuade an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama to quash the 19-count money laundering charge that was preferred against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Dasuki who was accused of diverting over N32billion from accounts the office of the NSA operated with both the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions, had in an application he filed on January 12, begged the court to invoke its powers under section 6(6) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, and discharge him from the case.

Former National Security Adviser, NSA, to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki

He anchored the application on refusal by the federal government to release him from detention, despite the fact that he had perfected all the conditions upon which the court granted him bail on December 18, 2015.

Dasuki, through his team of lawyers led by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, urged the court to not only discharge him, but to also prohibit the EFCC from further prosecuting him over the instant case or any other charge, or even approaching any court in the country to seek any relief against him.

Alternatively, he prayed the high court to stay further proceeding on the matter pending his release from detention, contending that the action of the federal government against him was in contempt of a subsisting court order.

Daudu argued that the continued incarceration of his client has greatly affected his chance to prepare a formidable defence against all the criminal charges pending against him before different courts.

He told the court the erstwhile NSA was on December 29, re-arrested by security operatives, immediately he was released by prison authorities having fulfilled all the bail conditions.

Meantime, the EFCC, through a 26-paragraphed counter-affidavit that was deposed by one of its detectives, Mr. Hamza Ibrahim, vehemently opposed the application which it said was nothing but a ploy by the former NSA to delay his trial.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that Dasuki was re-arrested by operatives from the Department of State Service, DSS, in connection with an ongoing investigation into his alleged involvement in other corruption allegations.

Jacobs drew the attention of the court to the provisions of sections 306 and 396 (1) to (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, ‎which he said has abolished the stay of criminal proceedings like the one against Dasuki.

Ruling on the matter yesterday, trial Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf dismissed the application which he said was bereft of merit.

Justice Yusuf disagreed with Dasuki that his continued detention was in contempt of the order he made on December 18, stressing that the DSS, which currently has the former NSA in its custody, was not a party to case before the court.

“The law is clear that a contemnor is a person to whom the order of the court is directed to”, Justice Yusuf noted, saying the DSS could not be in contempt since the court did issue any order against it, neither did it prohibit the re-arrest of the defendant.

Describing the disobedience of a court order by any government agency as “a very serious issue that could portend a grave danger to the administration of justice in the country”, the trial Judge, said the fact that Dasuki was actually released from prison custody before he was eventually re-arrested, satisfied the bail order the court made on December 18.

“Argument by the defence counsel that the DSS is an agency of the federal government which is also prosecuting the case before this court does not impress me. The only approach that suits the justice of this case is for the 1st defendant to apply for the enforcement of his Fundamental Human Rights pursuant to section 46 of the 1999 constitution.

“Having held that the prosecution is not in contempt of court, there will be no need for me to stay this proceeding. This application does not have any merit and I hold as much. T therefore disnmiss same”, Justice Yusuf ruled.

Spirited effort by the lawyer that represented Dasuki yesterday, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, for the court to allow the parties to firstly “tackle the issue of the stranger (DSS)”, currently keeping his client in its detention, proved abortive, as the court, gave the EFCC the nod to open its case on March 23.

Dasuki is facing trial before the court alongside the erstwhile Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu and a former Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, ‎Aminu Baba-Kusa‎.

Also charged over the alleged fraud were ‎two firms- Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referal Hospital Limited, which the anti-graft agency identified as conduit pipes through which the N32bn was allegedly siphoned from accounts the office of the NSA operated with both the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions.

The funds were allegedly distributed to delegates that attended the Presidential Primary Election the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held in Abuja, a process that saw the emergence of ex-President ‎Goodluck Jonathan as the sole candidate of the party.

The accused persons were arraigned before the court on December 14 and were subsequently granted bail to the tune of N200million each.

Aside seizure of their international passports, the court, ordered the defendants to individually produce a surety who must be a serving or retired civil servant not below the rank of a Director, adding that the said surety must be an owner of a landed property within the Federal Capital Territory worth N200m.

Meanwhile, Dasuki is also answering to another 22-count charge bordering on alleged N19.4billion before the Abuja high court, as well as a five-count charge before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court bordering on money laundering and his alleged illegal possession of fire arms.

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