In compliance with the Supreme Court order, an Abuja High Court has adjourned the trial of former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki in the alleged money-laundering charges brought against him by the Federal Government till May 2 and 3 for definite trial.
A Judge of the Court, Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf, announced the new trial date in Abuja after being presented with the Supreme Court judgment of March 2, 2018 which ordered accelerated hearing into the case.
However, to ensure effective management of the two separate charges against Dasuki and other defendants, the court fixed April 13 for a pre-trial conference to be attended by seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) involved in the case so as to enable them take common positions on documents from the prosecution and those from the defendants.
During the conference which will be presided over by Justice Baba Yusuf, all documents that are not contentious will be admitted from the bar while the contentious ones are to be tendered during trial to ensure speedy hearing of the cases which were filed in September 2015.
Senior counsels involved in the matter, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (for Prosecution), Ahmed Raji, Akin Olujimi, Olajide Ayodele, Kayode Olatoke, Hakeem Afolabi and Solomon Umoh who are standing for different defendants in the trial all agreed with the Supreme Court decision for accelerated hearing and the pre-trial conference to sort out all the contentious issues.
Ahmed Raji who led the legal team of Dasuki had told the court that the decision of the Supreme Court indicated that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is different from Department of State Security Service (DSS) and that both are not serving the same government.
The Federal government had slammed charges against the former NSA, Sambo Dasuki; Salisu Shuaib, a former Director of Finance in the office of the National Security Adviser ONSA; Aminu Baba-Kusa; Acacia Holding Limited; and Reliance Referral Hospital on alleged money-laundering and criminal breach of trust.
Although the charges were filed in 2015, proper trial could not commence due to the failure of the Federal Government to allow the principal defendant in the matter, Sambo Dasuki, to enjoy the bail granted him by different courts since 2015.
In the bid to enforce the bail order, Dasuki had approached the court of appeal and Supreme Court to compel the Federal Government to allow him go on bail as ordered by the trial court, just like other defendants; and to enable him access to his lawyers and prepare for his defence as required by law.
However, both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court had in their separate judgments disagreed with Dasuki that the Federal Government did not obey the bail order.
The two courts held that since his bail at the Kuje Prison was endorsed by the Controller of Prison and he was released before been re-arrested by another security agency of the Federal Government; the bail had been obeyed at that level.
With the new Supreme Court decision, especially on accelerated hearing, full scale trial is now expected to commence on May 2, 2018.
Justice Baba-Yusuf in his brief comment had appealed to the senior lawyers involved in the matter to cooperate with one another, especially with the prosecution, to allow the trial to flow so that justice can be reached within a reasonable time.
The judge said that as ministers in the temple of justice, the senior lawyers should do away with sentiments and do their jobs as legal practitioners of reputable standing in the interest of justice for both parties.