An Abuja high court has overruled the federal government in its decision to confine the detained former national security adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.) to the premises of Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to access and brief his lawyer in the on-going trial of criminal charges on corruption brought against him.
Dasuki who had been granted bails by three different high courts, met the bail conditions but was re-arrested by the operatives of DSS since December last year but yet to be released.
The court, sitting on Monday, May 23, 2016 ordered that Dasuki must be allowed to access and brief his lawyers at a neutral place instead of the premises of the DSS headquarters in Abuja so as to enable him prepare adequately for his defence in the trial.
Justice Husain Baba Yusuf, who issued the order in Abuja today directed that henceforth the detained ex-NSA should be allowed by the DSS operatives to access his lawyers within the premises of the Federal Capital Territory Judiciary Headquarters in Maitama Abuja between Monday to Friday this week.
The pronouncement of Justice Baba Yusuf followed a complaint by Dasuki’s lawyer Mr Adeola Adedipe that the legal team for Dasuki had not been allowed to have direct access to him in spite of a court order made on April 6.
At the resumed hearing of the case, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN had told the Judge that the case was slated for commencement of trial and that he was fully ready with his witnesses that will testify in the case.
However, Adedipe rose and inform the court that he was not ready for any trial because the ruling of April 6 which ordered DSS to allow them access their client for briefing so as to prepare his defence has not been complied with by the security agency.
The counsel claimed that following the April 6 ruling, a letter by Dasuki’s lead counsel Mr Joseph Daudu dated April 13 was despatched to the DSS requesting for permission to access Dasuki outside the DSS office as contained in the ruling of the court.
To their surprise, Adedipe informed Justice Baba Yusuf that the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jabobs, SAN replied on April 18 to the effect that the access to Dasuki can only be granted at a convenient room and unhindered in a special room at the DSS headquarters.
The counsel insisted that because of the confidentiality required in such a briefing between a client and his lawyer, the DSS letter could not be acted upon, hence the defence was not ready for trial until it has been afforded opportunity to access Dasuki on a neutral ground for proper briefing.
The same position was canvassed by Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, Solomon Umoh, SAN and Abioldun Layonu, SAN who are counsel to other defendants in the trial and claimed that in order not put a question mark in the trial, Dasuki must be allowed access to his lawyers in a neutral place in the interest of fear trial.
Justice Baba Yusuf who had earlier indicated that he was not going to grant any further adjournment however saw reason with the defence and adjourned the case till June 6 for the DSS to comply with his April 6 ruling.
The Judge ordered that as from today till Friday Dasuki must be brought by the DSS operatives to the premises of the Abuja High Court as a neutral ground where Dasuki should be allowed unhindered access to his lawyers to enable him prepare adequate defence in the criminal charges against him.
Justice Baba Yusuf asked Jacobs to prevail on his client to always obey orders of the court in order not to impede the criminal trials pending in the court of laws.