A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama has ordered the issuance of a production warrant on the Department of State Services (DSS) to compel it to produce detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Mohammed Dasuki on the next date.
Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf gave the order in a ruling on Tuesday at the resumed hearing in the trial of Dasuki and some others.
Justice Baba-Yusuf said: “The information before the court is that the 1st defendant is in the custody of the DSS and the prosecution is to liaise with the DSS to produce the 1st defendant in court and in any day the cases comes up.
“But it appears that the prosecution has failed to do and did not provide any explanation for failing to do so.
“Hence, I will issue a production warrant and adjourn the case till a further date to ensure the presence of the first defendant in court,” the judge said and scheduled May 24 as the next hearing date.
Dasuki is being tried with Aminu Baba-Kusa and his (Baba-Kusa’s) two firms – Acacia Holdings Ltd and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited – on a 32-count charge, in which they are accused of diverting N32bn meant for procurement of firearms and ammunition to combat insurgents.
At the commencement of proceedings on Tuesday, the judge observed that Dasuki, listed as the first defendant, was absent.
Lawyers to the defendants – Victor Okwudiri (for Dasuki), Solomon Umoh (SAN), R.A Rilwan and A.O Ayodele – blamed Dasuki’s absence on the prosecution.
They expressed surprise that the prosecution lawyer, representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Oluwaleke Atolagbe could not explain the absence of the first defendant, who they noted, was in the custody of the state.
In his response, Atolagbe, a private lawyer, engaged by the EFCC, argued that his client was without for Dasuki’s absence.
He said, “All the defendants are saying that the 1st defendant (Dasuki) is in the custody of the state, but this honourable court has held that he is in the custody of the DSS and not the EFCC that is prosecuting this case, a position both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have upheld.
“The EFCC cannot produce the 1st defendant because he is not in their custody.
“I would urge my lord to issue a production warrant for the production of the 1st defendant as issued in the sister case,” Atolagbe said.
He urged the court to hold that, should the DSS be unable to produce Dasuki on the next date, the court should invoke the provisions of Section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to proceed with the trial in the first defendant’s absence.
Atolagbe told the court that another court has taken such a step in another case in which the DSS was already prosecuting Dasuki.
In that case, the DSS, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, is prosecuting Dasuki on money laundering and illegal possession of firearms charges before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja.