By Edith Nwapi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday re-arraigned, retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser (NSA) and five others, for alleged diversion, and criminal breach of trust.
The others were Bashir Yuguda, Shuaibu Salisu, a former Director of Finance, Office of the NSA, Dalhatu Investment Ltd., Sagir Attahiru and Attahiru Bafarawa, a former governor of Sokoto State.
They were re-arraigned on a 22-count charge before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, and they pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Baba-Yusuf ordered that the existing bail condition be maintained after listening to submissions of all counsel to the defendants and the prosecuting counsel.
The Prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), opposed the upholding of Dasuki’s bail, saying that he was still being held by the Department of State Services (DSS) since he was granted bail earlier.
Jacobs also applied for date to open his case against the defendants since they pleaded not guilty to the charges.
This, he said, was in accordance with Section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which provides for day-to-day trial.
Dasuki’s counsel, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), objected, saying that the EFCC brought his client to court and not DSS.
He also said that ECOWAS court had earlier given a valid judgment on the issue and objected to the suggestion of Rotimi.
He argued that the day-to-day trial was when the case fully commences.
The counsel to other defendants aligned with Dr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Counsel to Bafaarawa, saying that Section 396 of ACJA should not be put above the provisions of in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Fagbemi said that the section provides for fair hearing and so it would not be right for the defendants to be arraign today and trial to commence tomorrow.
Baba-Yusuf adjourned till Feb. 24 for commencement of trial.
Dasuki and others were earlier arraigned on a 22-count charge bordering on diversion, conspiracy, bribery, abuse of office and criminal breach of trust of about N19.4 billion before Justice Peter Affen in December 2015.
The defendants were also granted bail by Affen in the sum of N250 million each with two sureties each in the like sum.
Affen said that one of sureties must be a retired or serving civil servant in Federal Government’s employment, reside within the court’s jurisdiction and own landed property in Abuja.
The case was consolidated and transferred to Baba-Yusuf’s court following an application by Chief Joseph Daudu, counsel to Dasuki. (NAN)