JUSTICE Adeniyi Ademola of the federal high court, Abuja, and one of the embattled judges, said he would no longer preside over the criminal charge the federal government preferred against Sambo Dasuki, a retired colonel and the detained former National Security Adviser, NSA.
Addressing the open court, Justice Ademola anchored his decision to hands-off the case on the recent clampdown of some judges by the DSS. He said the DSS, which investigation culminated into the criminal charge before him, specifically accused him while in custody that he collected “huge sums of money” from Dasuki. However, before he disqualified himself from the trial, Justice Ademola engaged Dasuki who listened attentively from the dock, in a question and answer session.
The Judge began: “I am sure the prosecution and defence counsel in this matter are conversant with what has been going on in the last seven days, in this country. “One of the allegations being made against me by the Department of State Security is that I received certain sums of unspecified money from the defendant. “Of course, I have responded to that allegation of receiving an unspecified sums of money from the defendant but it will be wise for him to answer some questions.”
He then looked at Dasuki and asked: “Do you know me at all or have come in contact with me? “No I don’t know you my Lord” Dasuki responded. “Did you at any time give me money in respect of the on going trial? “No, my Lord, I didn’t give you any money”, Dasuki replied “Did you send any money to me; to any member of my family; or through any counsel?”, the Judge further queried. “No, my Lord, except maybe the DSS agents who are reporting the allegation did”, Dasuki who was visible displeased answered.
Directing his gaze at the prosecution counsel, Justice Ademola said: “I am happy that the defendant has answered these questions. In the interest of fair hearing, I am minded to return the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for further action”. Neither the prosecuting counsel, Mr Dipo Okpeseyi, SAN, nor the defence lawyer, Mr. Adedayo Adedeji raised issue against the decision of the judge. The prosecution counsel Okpeseyi SAN, said: “We are guided by your Lordship’s decision, even though we had come here today for a ruling and continuation of trial”.
The defence lawyer said the judge took the right step in view of recent happenings. While refusing Okpeseyi’s request for an adjournment to enable the parties to meet with the CJ on the way forward, Justice Ademola ruled: “This court is minded to transfer this case to the Chief Judge. The defendant has vehemently denied in open court today, the allegation made by the DSS. “Therefore, this case file has been returned to the CJ in line with principle of fair hearing. This criminal matter has been adjourned to another date as may be fixed by the new judge”.
— Oct 19, 2016 @ 15:15 GMT