An Abuja High Court has ordered the Federal Government to allow detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Retired Colonel Muhammed Sambo Dasuki, access to his lawyers at a neutral place other than the premises of the Department of the State Security Service (DSS), so as to enable him prepare adequately for his defence in the ongoing trial over arms purchase scandal.
Justice Husain Baba Yusuf on Monday, 23 May 2016, directed that the former NSA should be allowed by the DSS to meet with his lawyers within the premises of the Federal Capital Territory Judiciary Headquarters in Maitama, Abuja, between Monday, 23 May to Friday, 27 May, 2016.
This directive was as a result of 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.
When trial resumed on Monday, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN told the Judge that he was fully ready with his witnesses that will testify in the case.
But, Adedipe informed the court that he was not ready for any trial because the DSS has refused to comply with the ruling of April 6 which ordered them to allow Dasuki access to his lawyers for briefing so as to prepare his defence.
Adedipe explained that on April 13, Dasuki’s lead counsel, Joseph Daudu, wrote a letter requesting the DSS to allow him meet with Dasuki outside the DSS office as stated in the court ruling, but they were surprised to receive a reply from Mr Rotimi Jacobs on April 18 saying that Dasuki can only be allowed to talk with his lawyers at a special room at the DSS headquarters.
The counsel maintained that due to the confidential nature of 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.
Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, Solomon Umoh, SAN and Abioldun Layonu, SAN who are counsels to other defendants in the case, took the same position, saying that in order for the trial to be fair, Dasuki must be allowed access to his lawyers in a neutral place.
Justice Baba Yusuf, who agreed with the submissions of the defence counsels, asked the prosecution counsel to prevail on the EFCC to always respect court orders so as not to impede the criminal trials pending in the court of law.
He subsequently adjourned the case to June 6.