N19.4bn fraud charge: Court discontinues trial in Dasuki’s absence

By Ese Awhotu with agency report

The trial of a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, again met brick walls yesterday as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Maitama declined further trial on the accused in his absence.
Dasuki is standing trial alongside four others, Bashir Yuguda, Dalhatu investment Ltd, Sagir Attahiru and Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, for allegedly diverting public funds worth N19.4 billion.
He has been in detention since his arrest in 2015 despite being granted bail by the court on many occasions.
Dasuki last year said he would no longer appear in court for his trial until government honours the bail.
But yesterday at the opening of trial, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Oluwaleke Atolagbe, told the court that the matter was scheduled for trial and that a prosecution witness was in court waiting to give evidence.
He said the matter could not go on in the absence of the ex-NSA, Dasuki.
His words, “The information I have is that the second defendant (Mr Dasuki) has insisted that he would not come to court. Certainly, the trial cannot go on today since he is not available,” he said.
“I humbly refer the court to section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which permits the court to go into trial in absence of the defendant who has refused to come to court without any reasonable excuse. But this would be after two adjournments.”
Responding, Dasuki’s lawyer, Victor Okudili, told the court that a motion of notice seeking an order to adjourn the trial indefinitely, pending compliance by the EFCC with the judgment of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on July 2, 2018, which granted bail to the defendant.
Atolagbe acknowledging the receipt of the application and asked for an adjournment to enable him to respond to it.
Based on the foregoing, the presiding judge, Hussein Baba-Yusuf, adjourned the matter to February 19 to hear the application

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