Saturday, 18 March 2017

Dasuki: Court knocks off EFCC witness

An FCT High Court, on Friday ordered the prosecution to list its witnesses in retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki’s case. The court also knocked off a prosecution witness for not being included on the witness list. The judge, Hussein Baba-Yusuf, gave the order after listening to Mr. Dasuki’s counsel, Joseph Daudu. He agreed with Mr. Daudu that all witnesses billed to testify against Mr. Dasuki must be listed in the witness list. He ordered the prosecution to make a copy of the list available to the court and also serve the defendants. Mr. Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser, NSA, to former President Goodluck Jonathan, was arraigned on a 19-count charge bordering on alleged diversion of N13.6 billion. Mr. Dasuki is being tried alongside Shuaibu Salisu, a former Director of Finance, Office of the NSA, and Aminu Baba-Kusa, a former NNPC Executive Director and two others. At the resumed hearing, Michael Adariku, an operative of the EFCC, continued his testimony which he started on January 25. But Mr. Daudu vehemently opposed the inclusion of the EFCC operative on the ground that he was not listed on the witnesses list as demanded by Section 397 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. He insisted that it was the requirement that all witnesses in a criminal matter must be listed and that the list of the witnesses must be served on the defendants. Mr. Daudu submitted that the defendants were disadvantaged because they were not aware of the witness and his background upon which they could effectively cross-examine him. He urged the court to disallow the witness from giving evidence. Responding, Rotimi Jacobs, the prosecuting counsel, urged the court to discountenance the objection, adding that the said witness had started giving evidence since January. Mr. Jacob insisted that it was too late in the day for the defendants to object or to seek disqualification of a person who had already started giving evidence simply because the name of the person did not appear in the witness list. He said that the statements of this witness had been included since 2015 and served on the defendants without any objections. Other lawyers in the matter aligned themselves with the position of Mr. Daudu that it was a trite law that anybody wishing to testify in a criminal matter must be listed in the witness list. Justice Baba Yusuf after listening to all parties agreed with Mr. Daudu that all witnesses billed to testify against his client must be listed in the witness list and that a copy of the list must be made available to him in line with provisions of the law and in the interest of justice and fair play. The judge ordered the EFCC operative who was already in the witness box to step-down. Consequently the court adjourned the matter till May 16, 17, 18 2017 in agreement with lawyers involved in the matter. The court also fixed May 11 and May 12 for the trial of the second charges against Dasuki.


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