By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—An Abuja High Court at Maitama, on Tuesday, deferred trial of the detained former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, over alleged diversion of N2.1 billion meant for the purchase of arms, till January 25, 2017.
Dasuki is facing two separate charges the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, entered against him before the high court.
He is being tried on a 19-count charge bordering on alleged N32 billion fraud, as well as another 22-count charge involving alleged N19.4 billion fraud.
In the first case, EFCC alleged that Dasuki connived with a former Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu, and a former Executive Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Aminu Baba-Kusa, to divert funds .
It alleged that the defendants siphoned N32billion 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.
Two firms through which the fund was allegedly diverted- Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referal Hospital Limited, were also joined as defendants in the matter.
Trial Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf who is handling both cases, adjourned them yesterday following the absence of one of the defendants, Shuaibu, in court.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe, notified the court that the defendant took ill and was hospitalised.
Atolagbe, who acknowledged that he was served with a medical report confirming the state of health of the defendant, applied for the trial to be adjourned till a later date.
Similarly, Shuaibu’s lawyer, Mr. Adetayo Adeyemo, apologised to the court that his client could not attend the proceeding due to illness.
He also confirmed to the court that the medical report had been served on both the prosecution and other parties in the matter.
In his ruling, Justice Baba-Yusuf granted the request for adjournment which was not opposed by any of the parties.
While the Judge fixed January 24 to mention the second case, he adjourned the first case till January 25 for trial.
Aside Dasuki and Shuaibu, other defendants in the second charge are a former Minister of Finance, Bashir Yuguda, former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and his son, Sagir Attahiru.
EFCC alleged that the stolen fund was part of about $2.1billion that was meant for the purchase of arms but illegally diverted in personal pockets.
A company it said served as conduit pipe for the alleged diversion, Dahaltu Investment Limited, was cited as the 4th defendant in the matter.
It will be recalled that the ECOWAS court had in a judgment on October 4, ordered the Federal Government to immediately release Dasuki from detention.
Though FG is yet to comply with the order, it however applied for an accelerated trial of all the defendants.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier withdrawn himself from presiding over another four-count charge against Dasuki bordering on money laundering and his alleged illegal possession of firearms.
The former NSA has been in detention since November 3, 2015. He was re-arrested on December 29, 2015, by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, immediately he was released from Kuje Prison upon perfecting all his bail conditions.