By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf of an Abuja High Court at Maitama, yesterday, adjourned trial of erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), till May 23.
The trial which was originally scheduled to kick off yesterday, was stalled by failure of the Federal Government to produce the defendant in court.
Since February 8, when the court ordered full-blown hearing on the matter, the Federal Government has repeatedly failed to produce Dasuki for the trial to commence.
At the resumed sitting, yesterday, though EFCC notified the court that some of the witnesses were present, it blamed the absence of the defendant on refusal by the Department of State Services, DSS, to release him from custody.
EFCC lawyer, Mr Oluwaleke Atolagbe, told the court that he made serious efforts to contact the DSS to produce Dasuki in court yesterday for the trial to begin.
He said it was regrettable that the efforts turned futile as the DSS still refused to release the defendant.
Atolagbe said there was no indication that the former NSA would be brought to court for the trial, even though the witnesses were available.
However, the EFCC lawyer prayed the court for a stand-down to enable the lead prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, who he said was handling another matter at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, to appear and give further explanations on what transpired between the commission and the DSS.
The request was vehemently opposed by counsel to the other defendants, led by Chief Olujimi, SAN, and Solomon Umoh, SAN, who contended that such stand-down would be inconsequential in the absence of the first defendant in court.
The defendants, while conceding to an adjournment, urged the court to issue a stern warning to the prosecution to ensure the presence of the 1st defendant on the next adjourned date.
In his ruling, Justice Yusuf stressed that it was the responsibility of the prosecution to produce the defendant in court for trial as required by law.
Noting that the prosecuting counsel had previously conducted himself properly before the court, the judge said he was minded to give the Federal Government one more chance.
It will be recalled that the accused persons were arraigned before the court on December 14, 2015, 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 .
Even though the court granted them bail on December 18, 2015, Dasuki was on December 29, 2015, re-arrested by security operatives, immediately he was released by prison authorities after he perfected all the bail conditions.