Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on Thursday, February 4, 2016refused the application for stay of proceedings filed by J.B. Dawodu, SAN, counsel to Col. Sambo Dasuki ( retd.), a former National Security Adviser, who is being prosecuted alongside five others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Dasuki ( first defendant) alongside Shuaibu Salisu, a former Director of Finance and Administration, Office of the National Security Adviser; Aminu Babakusa, a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited are being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering and criminal breach of trust to the tune of N13, 570,000, 000.00( Thirteen Billion, Five Hundred and Seventy Million Naira).
At today’s sitting, Dawodu adopted his written address, a 19-paragraph affidavit praying the court to prohibit the prosecution from continuing with the trial of the first defendant on the grounds that he( Dasuki) was re-arrested after being granted bail by the court.
Dawodu also prayed the court for a stay of further proceedings pending the time he (Dasuki) would seek enforcement of his right to liberty as ordered by the court.
According to him, the first defendant had not been able to prepare for the trial because he had been denied his freedom.
He added: ‘‘My Lord, so far, my client has been treated like a convict, even when the trial has not commenced. The respondent, in his counter-affidavit, has sought to differentiate the EFCC that he is representing from the Department of State Services, DSS. But we have shown that they all work for the same master.’’
Reacting to Dawodu’s address, Justice Baba-Yusuf, however, raised a poser, saying, ‘‘If the EFCC, as you have just said, breached or flouted my orders, is it possible for me to stop the Police, for instance, from preferring criminal charges against the defendant, if he has committed another offence?”
While adopting his written address, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, stated that the court order that granted the first defendant bail did not confer immunity on him from being re-arrested, if any other criminal charge had been preferred against him by any other institution of government.
According to him, the EFCC and other institutions of government are entitled to use the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to institute a case or action against anyone.
‘‘In this case, if the court ruled against the prosecution, it will be against the EFCC and not the DSS,’’ he added.
He further told the court that the application for stay of proceedings filed by the counsel to the first defendant was intended to scuttle the trial.
According to him, ‘‘it is an abuse of process because it (the application) does not relate to this case. My Lord, the application is too ambitious; it lacks merit and should not be granted. There is no order of this court that says that the first defendant cannot be re-arrested, if he is alleged to have committed another offence apart from this.
The application for stay of proceedings does not arise in this case at this stage because the first defendant has not filed any appeal.''
He further stated that Section 46 of the Constitution avails the defence counsel to seek the enforcement of the fundamental right of his client at the Federal High Court, where he had been granted bail that the DSS was said to have breached.
Justice Baba-Yusuf, who lauded the prosecution for not going outside the content of his written address, told counsel to the first defendant that his application for stay of proceedings was unnecessary at this stage.
‘‘Don’t you think your application is premature? You have not convinced me in your address why I should grant your prayer’’, he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Baba-Yusuf also refused the prayers of the counsel to the second, third, fourth and fifth defendants to be heard on some issues which, according to them, were constitutional in the application filed by the counsel to the first defendant.
Though they had individually argued at the last sitting that they were also parties to the application, Justice Baba-Yusuf refused their prayers because none of them filed any process after the prosecution had served them each his counter-application to the affidavit filed by counsel to the first defendant.
Consequently, Justice Baba-Yusuf adjourned to Monday, February 8, 2016 for ruling on the application for stay of proceedings by the defence.
Head, Media & Publicity
4th February, 2016