The counsel representing former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has asked an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to set aside its proceedings in the ongoing trial of former Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson, Olisah Metuh, pending a current application at the Appeal Court.
The lawyer, Ahmed Raji, on Tuesday informed the high court, presided by Justice Okon Abang, that his client had approached the appellate court to challenge a previous decision of the high court which compelled the former NSA to appear as a defense witness in Mr. Metuh’s trial.
Mr. Metuh is facing trial for alleged diversion of N400 million received from Mr. Dasuki’s office when the latter was NSA.
The former PDP spokesperson asked and obtained separate orders compelling Mr. Dasuki and former President Goodluck Jonathan to appear as defense witnesses in the matter.
Reacting to the subpoena issued on Mr. Dasuki, Mr. Raji asked the court to set aside the order, pending when Mr. Dasuki is released from the custody of the State Security Service, SSS.
But the judge, Mr. Abang, refused the application, stressing that the decision to compel Mr. Dasuki to appear was made by a higher court, which he (Abang) lacks jurisdiction to overrule.
Mr. Raji had told journalists that his client would appeal the ruling if the lower court went against his application.
At Tuesday’s court session, Mr. Raji said he had filed the application at the Appeal Court and would like the lower court to wait till the higher court decides on the current motion before it (Appeal Court).
“The only thing we can do is to appeal to your Lordship to tarry to allow the Court of Appeal to determine the motion for stay of execution. It is my intention to withdraw the motion dated 25th October praying the court for a stay of execution, because of the similar motion filed at the Appeal Court."
“It is therefore my humble submission that in the light of the motion for stay of execution pending before the Court of Appeal, energy should not be dissipated on the execution of the subpoena because that could run against what the Appeal Court will decide upon, to the effect that once a motion like this is filed, the lower court will tarry,” Mr. Raji said.
Mr. Raji also asked the court to set aside a previous submission of the prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir. Mr. Tahir had at the opening of session told the court that Mr. Dasuki spoke through an official of the SSS that he (Dasuki) would not come to court to testify.
Mr. Tahir told the court that the information was relaid to him by a reliable source who heard from Mr. Dasuki, and therefore he (Tahir) asked the court to order for Mr. Dasuki’s arrest.
Responding, however, Mr. Raji asked the court to totally disregard the submission of the prosecution, because it amounts to hearsay.
“I have the greatest respect for SSS and I know they are doing their best. I will urge my Lord to hesitate in issuing a bench warrant against the director general in the light of the motion pending before the Court of Appeal."
The prosecutor has submitted. I urge my Lord that everything ascribed to Colonel Dasuki by the SSS officer should be expunged from your records. Because it is a damaging and incriminating hearsay, portraying Colonel Dasuki as being defiant of the court and saying he is not going to come.
“Mr. Tahir is quoting somebody else and that person is now quoting what Dasuki allegedly said: that he will not come to court. This is a damaging, hearsay that is inadmissible."
Mr. Raji reiterated his request for the court to suspend the matter, pending the Appeal Court decision.
The counsel to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on whom the court also issued a subpoena, also made his application.
The lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, in a rather dramatic tone, noted his client’s request for Mr. Metuh to deposit N1 billion as travel and logistics expenses before he can come to testify as a defense witness.
“My Lord: Ojukwu once wrote a book, “because I am involved” we are standing here this morning because we are involved."
“In view of that I am standing here to draw your attention to our motion, dated and filed October 30 and filed to all parties, urging the court to set aside the issuance or service of the subpoena issued by this court on the 23rd of October, for the purpose of compelling Goodluck Jonathan to appear in court and give evidence."
“We have an order directing the first defendant-respondent to deposit with this honorable court: for and on behalf of Mr. Jonathan, N1 billion to cover Mr. Jonathan’s travel expenses and that of his aides from his hometown Otuoke and for logistics to cover any period of time that he might spend appearing as former president in court.”
Mr. Ozekhome said the application is made on eight grounds of argument pursuant to Section 241 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
He added that his client got to know about the subpoena through the pages of the newspapers
“If there was no subpoena, we will not be here. He was sitting on his own jeje. The subpoena was issued and we heard it on the pages of the newspapers,” Mr. Ozekhome said.
Citing various previous decisions by higher courts, Mr. Ozekhome said the court was duty bound to hear his application first.
Mr. Ozekhome further said the comment earlier made by Mr. Tahir about Mr. Dasuki’s appearance in court should not be regarded, as they amounted to hearsay. He said the submission of Mr. Tahir was against the provision of Section 37 of the evidence act.
“Do not say them, because if them say is called upon to say what them say said, them say will not be able to say what them say said,” Mr. Ozekhome said
"A court clerk who was called to inform the court about its effort to serve Mr. Jonathan said the bailiff was unable to serve the former president."
“We could not serve the former president. The reason is that on getting there, (Jonathan’s house) an aide to the former president said Mr. Jonathan is not in the country and would return in November,” the clerk said.