Another judge of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, Justice Peter Affen, on Friday ruled that the continued detention of the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), did not violate the order granting the ex-NSA bail on December 21, 2015.
Justice Affen dismissed the application by Dasuki seeking to stop his trial for alleged diversion of N19bn arms funds on the grounds that his re-arrest on December 29, 2015 violated the order of the court.
Earlier, Justice Baba Yusuf of the same court on February 8, made similar declaration that the detention of the former NSA was not in breach of his order granting bail to him on December 18, 2015.
The judge had fixed March 23 for the commencement of trial with respect to charges of alleged diversion of N32bn arms fund preferred against him and others.
Justice Affen ruled on Friday that the application lacked merit and ordered that the trial of the ex-NSA, who was charged along with others in the case, would commence on April 20 and 22.
Dasuki was re-arrested by operatives of the Department of State Service on December 29, 2015 shortly after he was released from Kuje Prison upon fulfilling the bail conditions imposed on him by the two judges of the FCT High Court in Maitama.
The ex-NSA had filed separate applications before the two judges asking for orders prohibiting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from further prosecuting him on the two separate cases pending before the judges.
Among his other prayers anchored on alleged violation of the orders of the court by the EFCC, Dasuki prayed the court for an order discharging him of the alleged crime or alternatively staying the proceedings until the orders granting him bail were complied with.
But Justice Affen ruled that since it was clear that the ex-NSA was not re-arrested by the EFCC but by the DSS, the EFCC could not be said to have violated the said order granting him bail.
The judge ruled that though the EFCC and the DSS were both federal agencies, the action or inaction of one could not be blamed on the order.
The judge ruled, “Though both the EFCC and the DSS are agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria, they are established under separate enactments and vested with distinct legal persona, powers and responsibilities such that one is not liable for action or inaction of the other.
“Even criminal prosecution is undertaken by them separately in the name of the Federal Government of Nigeria merely to facilitate the due administration of justice, which does not alter the mark of separate and distinct legal identities.
“This being so, the inevitable conclusion to reach is that the applicant has not made out a proper case of disobedience of the order made by this court on December 21, 2015 and therefore there is no legal or factual basis upon which the court can prohibit the complainant from further prosecuting the instant charges not to mention any other charge before any other court as prayed by the second defendant.”
He also ruled that the order granting bail to the defendant did not preclude him from being re-arrested by other agencies of the Federal Government in respect of other alleged crimes.
The judge said, “The point has already been made that the order allegedly disobeyed or violated did not contemplate any government agency other than the EFCC and that this court did not restrain the arrest, the re-arrest or detention of the second defendant or any of the defendants for further offences when alleged against them.”
He said there was no correlation between the prayer sought by Dasuki to discharge him and the alleged disobedience of court order.
The judge ruled, “I have found no correlation whatsoever and none has been demonstrated between the alleged disobedience of court order and being discharged of the offences charged.
“I take the considered view that even if the second defendant/applicant has succeeded in establishing the case of disobedience of the orders granted on December 21, 2015, and I have already held that he did not do so, that would not constitute valid grounds for discharging him of the offences preferred against him.”
In dismissing the prayer for an order for stay of proceedings, Justice Affen ruled that there was no basis for granting the prayer in the light of the provisions of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which prohibits the court from staying criminal proceedings.
The judge ruled, “No material is placed before this court to demonstrate what step or steps have been or are being taken towards enforcing the second defendant/applicant’s rights to liberty said to have been contravened or otherwise dealt with in the manner inconsistent with the constitution.
“This being so, even if this court is no precluded by Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, from staying proceedings there is no contingency upon which the stay being sought by the second defendant/applicant.”
Dasuki and others are being prosecuted on 22 counts of diversion of N19bn arms fund before Justice Affen.
His co-accused include a former Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, and a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda.
The others are a former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, the ex-governor’s son, Sagir Attahiru, and a firm, Dalhatu Investment.
The EFCC is also prosecuting the ex-NSA and others on separate set of 19 counts of alleged diversion of N32bn arms fund before Justice Baba Yusuf.