Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria are at daggers drawn in the Federal High Court over whether Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) who is being tried for laundering $2.1 billion meant for arms purchase is a fugitive or retired properly from the military
THE Department of State Security, DSS, and Col. Sambo Dasuki, (rtd) former national security adviser, NSA, are contesting the circumstances surrounding how the later left office as a military officer. While DSS insists that the former left the Nigeria army as a fugitive, Dasuki, through Ahmed Raji (SAN), his counsel stress that he legally left the Army in 1994 and his exit in the military was officially gazetted by the federal government through General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the former head of state, in 1999.
This debate came with the new charge the DSS filed against the embattled former NSA, stating that he left the Nigerian Army without resigning properly. This new twist is meant to tighten the noose on Dasuki, who is already being charged with diversion of $2.1 billion meant for purchase of arms for the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, and the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, at the last hearing of the suit against Dasuki at Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court on January 4, said government refused to set Dasuki free because of his past in the military despite the bail given to him by three different courts.
The prosecuting counsel had told the court that Dasuki was a fugitive, who ran away from the Army without proper resignation, adding that the ex-NSA is being currently held by the Department of State Service, DSS, on alleged breach of army service rule.
Jacobs told Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf that Dasuki went on an exile for seven years and that during the period he allegedly breached the army service rules.
However, Raji described the allegation as “a fallacy and a concocted lie to confuse the court as the prosecution has no answer to the well-grounded objection raised by the defence.” A statement issued by Raji in Abuja said: “The allegation of fugitive against Dasuki cannot hold water on stand in the face of the law in view of the official gazette of the Federal Government that confirmed his retirement from the military.
“It is curious that the prosecution counsel who initially claimed ignorance of the reason behind the denial of bail is now coming up with these excuses… I am tempted to believe that my learned friend Mr. Rotimi Jacob SAN must be genuinely mixing-up facts or mistake of identity.”
The lawyer added: “The allegation is baseless, unwarranted and malicious because his exit was in the gazette of the Federal government. We accordingly urge those holding Dasuki in the custody in flagrant disobedience to the court order that granted him bail to have a rethink and respect the rule of law.”
This notwithstanding, a report by PRNigeria gave the background to Dasuki’s exit from the Nigerian Army. The newswire said it gathered that former military dictator, late General Sani Abacha held Dasuki in contempt and marked him down for persecution, when he (Dasuki) spoke openly on the annulled June 12, 1993, Presidential election, saying that the winner of the election, late MKO Abiola be installed as Nigerian President.
According to the report, “Dasuki was among the officers who confronted late Sani Abacha and insisted that MKO Abiola be freed and allowed to become President over the June 12, 1993 President election. This led to the premature retirement of Dasuki and other officers in 1994.
“The persecution that followed forced him into exile where he joined forces with other patriotic Nigerians to claim for the return of democracy in Nigeria. Some top politicians in the current administration also fled into exile to sustain campaigns for the enthronement of democracy. Dasuki and others were declared wanted by the Abacha’s police.
“Meanwhile, in an official Gazette No 33 Volume 86, Dasuki was granted clemency and pardon along with others on March 4, 1999 by General Abdulsalam Abubakar, the then Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces for their innocence and meritorious service to their fatherland.
— Feb 8, 2016 @ 16:00 GMT