For the sixth time, another court of competent jurisdiction Monday, last week admitted the detained former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki to bail. TUNDE OYESINA reports
Six times, he was allowed home on bail by a Federal High Court in three years and five times the federal government has disobeyed the court which admitted at various times a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki to bail.
This time, eyes are on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government on what becomes of the sixth bail application granted in favour of the former security adviser.
One week after the court has granted an order compelling Dasuki to be released on bail, nothing appears that the President Buhari-led government would comply with the court’s order.
Dasuki is facing trial before two courts of coordinate jurisdiction–the Federal High Court and the Abuja High Court over an alleged money laundering and illegal possession of arms.
However, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja admitted Dasuki to bail in the sum of N200 million.
Dasuki was the NSA under former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
His travail began shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressive Congress took over power from the Peoples Democratic Party.
Dasuki was arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) in 2015 over an alleged diversion of $2.1 billion arms funds and illegal possession of fire arms.
He was arraigned before the now retired Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court but granted bail on August 30, 2015 by the court on self-recognizance following no objections by Mohammed Diri, the prosecuting counsel.
The Federal Government did not obey the court order as Dasuki was not released.
A fresh charge bothering on diversion of funds was, however, filed against him and about six others before an Abuja High Court.
Others charged with Dasuki before the Abuja High Court are Salisu Shuaibu, a director of finance in the office of the NSA and Aminu Kusa.
After pleading not guilty to the charge, the trial judge, Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf on December 18, 2015 admitted Dasuki and other co-defendants to bail in the sum of N250 million and a surety each in like sum.
According to the court, such surety must also sign a bond on N250 million.
The defendants were then remanded in Kuje Prisons pending perfection of their bail condition.
After some days, Dasuki and other defendants perfected their bail condition. But while other defendants were allowed to go home, Dasuki was re-arrested on December 29, 2015 at the gate of Kuje prisons and has subsequently been in the custody of the DSS.
The case has been in court without any meaningful progress.
Dasuki, however, in 2016 approached the ECOWAS court sitting in Abuja challenging his continued detention.
The court in its judgement set aside the continued detention of Dasuki and ordered his release.
In 2017, the Federal Government re-arraigned Dasuki alongside five others after it consolidated another suit filed before Justice Peter Affen of the same Abuja High Court.
On January 24, 2017, Justice Yusuf reaffirmed the bail on Dasuki on the grounds that he was entitled to it and having being admitted to same since 2015 when the federal government brought criminal charges against him.
At the Federal High Court where Dasuki is standing trial over alleged illegal possession of firearms, the matter was re-assigned to Justice A. R Mohammed.
The Federal Government later amended the charge against the former NSA.
The court, however, on April 5, 2017 reaffirmed the 2015 bail granted Dasuki after hearing the ex-NSA’s appeal of the amended seven-count charge against him.
Justice Mohammed held that since the prosecution counsel, Oladipo Okpeseyi SAN, did not object to Dasuki’s appeal, the court had to affirm same.
Furthermore, Justice Yusuf, on May 18, 2018, further reaffirmed the bail he granted Dasuki in 2015.
This followed another re-arraignment of Dasuki on a 32-count amended charge along with Aminu Kusa, Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital.
Counsel to Dasuki, Ahmed Raji SAN had prayed court to grant the defendants bail in liberal terms in view of the fact that they have been attending their trial since 2015.
The court however held that he should continue to enjoy the bail he granted them in 2015 when they were first arraigned before his court.
In the recent judgement, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu admitted Dasuki to bail.
However, in a fresh bid to get his freedom, Dasuki had in March filed an enforcement of fundamental rights suit before the court, contending that his continued detention since December 29, 2015 amounted to violation of his right to liberty.
Justice Ojukwu held that detaining Dasuki since 2015 constituted a breach of his fundamental rights.
The court further ordered Dasuki to produce two sureties, who must either be a civil servant of Grade Level 16 at the minimum in the Federal Civil Service or private citizens, who have landed properties in the municipal areas of Abuja.
She added that the surety must deposit the sum of N100 million with the registrar of the court and that the money would be returned to the surety at the end of the trial of the former NSA.
The court also ordered that the surety must submit to the court their recent passport photograph and that their residential address must be verified by the official of the court as part of the bail condition.
The court, however, held that the Federal Government’s contention that Dasuki was being kept in custody on the grounds of his alleged threat to national security and his alleged ongoing investigation for money laundering did not warrant “abrogating his right”. Keeping Dasuki in custody over alleged threat to national security does not warrant abrogating his right, the judge said.
Justice Ojukwu held that should there be any further reason to interrogate him, DSS could only invite and interview him between the hours of 9a.m. and 6p.m. on working days.
The court condemned the action of the Federal Government for unjustly arresting and detaining a Nigerian citizen for over two years without any justification contrary to the provisions of the law.
The court dismissed the claim by the security agency that Dasuki was being held in protective custody on the strength of the alleged arm and ammunition found in his house.
Justice Ojukwu held that although Dasuki in the instant case had been charged to various courts on the issue, the law however presumed that the former NSA was innocent of the charges against him until the contrary was proved beyond reasonable doubt.
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