Hearing in the 19-count money laundering charge against the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was Wednesday stalledat Abuja High Court.
This stemmed from the refusal of Dasuki to appear in court.His two lead counsel, Messrs Joseph Daudu (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN), were also absent from court.
At the resumed sitting on Wednesday, EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, told the court that the former NSA who has been in detention since November 3, 2015, refused to be brought to court.
Jacobs said Daudu had informed him of an application for stay of the proceedings of the trial which was filed before the Court of Appeal on behalf of the former NSA.
He maintained that the law never stopped an accused person in detention from facing trial.
“My lord, yesterday (Tuesday) the 1st defendant was notified that this matter will come up today (Wednesday) for hearing and that he should prepare.
“However, this morning, the 1st defendant refused to come to court on the ground that his lead counsels Mr. J. B. Daudu (SAN), and Ahmed Raji (SAN), will not be in court.
“We persuaded him to at least come to court first but he refused and insisted that he cannot be abducted. He said that nobody can force him to court”, Rotimi added.
He argued that section 267(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, allows the court to commence hearing on a case against a defendant who is in custody, so far such person is permitted to have unfettered access to his lawyers.
“I asked the DSS whether any of his counsels ever made any attempt to see him and they said none of his lawyers ever did”
But the lawyer who announced appearance for Dasuki, Wale Balogun, however debunked the allegation that his client refused to be brought to court.
He told the court that he was not aware of any of the allegations the prosecution raised against his client. He contended that the onus was on the prosecution to produce the defendant who has been in its custody, in court for trial.
“We are not in custody of the 1st defendant, they are the ones that have him in custody. We are not ordinarily allowed to see him, so there is no way we can confirm all the allegations.
“It is elementary requirement of law that the defendant must be present during his trial, the prosecution has not made any application for his presence to be excused. The allegation the prosecution raised are very serious. He said someone told him, that DSS officer ought to have deposed an affidavit.
“The learned silk cannot give evidence from the bar. His allegations should have been supported by an affidavit duly deposed before this court”, Balogun argued.