ABUJA — The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, gave the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), the nod to travel abroad for medical treatment.
In a ruling yesterday, trial Justice Ademola Adeniyi hinged his decision to give Dasuki three weeks medical leave abroad on his “deteriorating health condition.”
Justice Adeniyi dismissed fears by the Federal Government that the former NSA, who is facing a five-count charge bordering on alleged illegal possession of firearms and money laundering, could go into hiding once allowed outside the shores of Nigeria.
The Federal Government had, through the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri, opposed Dasuki’s application to be allowed to go for medical checkup abroad.
The DPP told the court that the government had already commenced a fresh investigation on another money laundering case involving the erstwhile NSA, saying the application was only aimed at frustrating his trial.
Besides, the Federal Government contended that the National Hospital in Abuja is well equipped to handle whatever ailment Dasuki is suffering from.
However, while dismissing Federal Government’s objections, yesterday, Justice Adeniyi held that “every citizen has a right to choose the medical facility he wants to be treated in, whether in Nigeria or abroad.”
Placing reliance on decided case law in Abacha vs State, 2002, 5-NWLR, the court further held that ill-health constituted a special circumstance that a court should take notice of to exercise its discretion in favour of an accused person.
Justice Adeniyi said the Federal Government failed to persuade it with the argument that Dasuki is currently a subject of a fresh criminal investigation.
He said: “Presently, this court is seized of only the amended charge against the defendant which involves allegations of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms, to which the prosecution deposed an affidavit that it has concluded all investigations.”
On his international passport
On Dasuki’s application for the release of his international passport and Federal Government’s opposition on the ground that it was the only document he surrendered to secure bail on self recognition, the court dismissed the argument by the Federal Government as “misconceived and not tenable in law.”
The court stressed that the fact that the accused was on September 1 granted bail on self recognition, meant that there was no condition attached to his release.
Maintaining that every accused person, in line with section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, ought to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, the trial judge said his decision to grant Dasuki’s request was also fortified by a decided case law in Ibori vs FRN, which he said was on all fours with the instant case before him.
“Accordingly, the application of the defendant succeeds and I hereby make the following orders:
“An order is hereby made by this court releasing the applicant’s international passport to enable him to travel abroad for three weeks for medical treatment owing to his deteriorating health condition.
“The Deputy Registrar of the Federal High Court is hereby directed to release the international passport to the defendant.
“It is also ordered that the defendant, upon his return to the country, should surrender his international passport to the Deputy Chief Registrar Litigation, within 72 hours upon his return.”
Court varies bail condition
More so, Justice Adeniyi, yesterday, relied on section 1 75 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and varied the bail it earlier granted the former NSA to include that he should provide a surety.
The court directed that the surety must sign a written undertaking to guarantee that the accused person will return to Nigeria after his medical treatment to face his trial, “failing which the surety will take the place of the defendant pending when he makes himself available for trial.
“Alternatively, any of the lawyers to the defendant can enter an undertaking to produce him on the trial date.”
The matter was subsequently adjourned till November 26 and 27 for trial, even as Justice Adeniyi ordered the Federal Government to ensure that its witnesses are in court that day.
Ex-gov Haruna signs undertaking
Meantime, shortly after the ruling, yesterday, the former governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Boni Haruna, signed undertaking to take the place of the ex-NSA should he fail to return to the country after three weeks to continue his trial.
Specifically, Dasuki was in the charge before the court, alleged to have kept in his possession, funds that were proceeds of an unlawful act, an offence the Federal Government said was contrary to section 15 (2)(d) of Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
The Federal Government alleged that he was on July 17, 2015, at his house situated at 13, John Khadiya Street, Asokoro, Abuja, found to be in possession of various range of firearms without requisite licence, an offence punishable under section 27 (1)(a) of the Firearms Act Cap F28 LFN 2004.
He was further accused of retaining $40,000, N5 millon and another $20,000 in the same house and same date, contrary to section 15 (2)(d) of Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
The Federal Government told the trial court that the ex-NSA had on July 16, 2015, at his residence at Sultan Abubakar Road and Sabon Birni Road, Sokoto State, retained another $150,000 and N37.6m, being part of proceedings of unlawful act, contrary to Section 15 (3) of the Money Laundering Act 2011.
Meanwhile, the court will on the next adjourned date rule on whether or not eight witnesses that are lined up against him should be allowed to wear masks.