Former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), on Tuesday, asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to suspend further hearing in the money laundering and illegal arms possession charge the Federal Government filed against him.
Dasuki urged the court to adjourn the case to await the outcome of an appeal he filed to challenge a ruling of the court that permitted the Federal Government to shield identities of 14 witnesses billed to testify against him.
The court had in a ruling on June 15, granted leave for all the prosecution witnesses to give their evidence behind screen.
In that ruling, Justice Ahmed Mohammed anchored the decision on section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act(ACJA), 2015, which he said permits the use of screen in the prosecution of cases involving economic crime.
Dasuki is standing trial on a seven-count criminal charge bordering on illegal and unlawful possession of firearms, as well as for money laundering offences brought against him by the federal government.
At the resumed sitting on the case, Dasuki’s counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN),told the court that his client has taken the matter before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.
Raji prayed the court to adjourn further hearing on the matter to enable the appellate court to decide the appeal marked CA/A/523C/2017.
He predicated the request on section 305(1A), 492(3) of the ACJA and section 36 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
“This application is not for stay of proceedings of this court.
“In the cause of proceeding here, major constitutional issues bordering on witness protection and fair trial arose,’’ Raji said.
However, the prosecution, Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), opposed the application on the premise that section 306 of the same ACJA forbade granting of stay of proceeding in criminal trial.
He urged the court to dismiss Dasuki’s application and proceed with hearing the oral evidence of three witnesses he said were present in court.
Okpeseyi told the court that whereas two of the available witnesses came from the South South, the third one came from the North East.
He further stated that the application is calculated to undermine gains by status law and case law in criminal administration on Nigeria.
Okpeseyi said “A decision has been taken in the court and what we have before the court of appeal is an appeal against the decision of the court not a referral.
He added that the application is a smokescreen to delay trial and it is aimed to pluck and defeat the will of justice.
After listening to all the parties, Justice Mohammed reserved ruling on Dasuki’s application till November 15.