Former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki has told the Federal High Court in Abuja that he is being persecuted by some 'powerful people' in the country for perceived grievances they held against him while he served in the military several years ago.
Though Mr. Dasuki did not mention any particular persons, he said that the punishment being meted out on him is unfortunate because it is borne out of mere vendetta.
He spoke through his counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN), while reacting to the government's request for his secret trial, stressing that he had rested the case in God's hands for the ultimate judgment.
“It is crystal clear that the defendant (Dasuki) is being punished by the powers that be for the perceived offenses committed long before… we leave them to the Almighty God for His ultimate judgment.”
The ex-NSA had been arraigned before three different high courts for various allegations and was granted bail, but he was re-arrested in December last year by the federal government and has since been held incommunicado.
At the resumed trial today, the federal government sought a secret trial of Mr. Dasuki, who is facing charges of unlawful possession of firearms, money laundering and breach of trust.
In the fresh motion argued by the prosecuting counsel, Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), the government prayed the court to allow witnesses to give evidence behind the screen to be provided by the court.
Mr. Okpeseyi held that the request hinged on the fact that Mr. Dasuki as a former security chief had loyalists across the country who may jeopardize the trial if done in the open.
"In the highest military office where Dasuki served last, loyalty is the first, second and the last rule and because of the peculiar nature of loyalty some people have for him within the military and beyond, those to give evidence in the trial were staff of the defendant at one time or the other.
"Since the witnesses are those whose primary duty is to assist the court in arriving at a just conclusion, the issue of security must be viewed with serious concern.
"I, therefore, urge the court to screen the witnesses from the public in the interest of justice as well as to protect them, their families and career."
However, Mr. Daudu vehemently opposed the request for a secret trial, arguing that it would breach the principle of fair trial.
Mr. Daudu added that contrary to the government's position, Mr. Dasuki could not be a threat to the witnesses as he had been in the federal government's custody since December last year.
The defense attorney emphasized that an open trial is the minimum requirement in a criminal trial, thus any attempt to opt for a secret trial in the instant case, which is not a capital offense, would run contrary to Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution on fair trial.
"I hereby urge the court to dismiss the application for secret trial, as such would trample on the rights of the defendant to fair trial,” Mr. Daudu said.
Meanwhile, Justice Adeniyi Ademola fixed the ruling and continuation of the trial for September 13, 14 and 15 after taking arguments from both parties.