N13.6bn Fraud: Why Abuja court disqualifies EFCC’s witness from testifying in Dasuki’s case

Joseph Bodunrin Daudu (SAN)

  • Says witness’ name not on EFCC’s list

An Abuja high court, on Friday, ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to serve its comprehensive list of witnesses on all parties in the fraud charge involving the retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki before it could further proceed with the trial.

The court gave the order shortly after it stopped one of the EFCC’s witnesses who had taken the witness box since January, this year, from testifying in the Dasuki’s case on the account that the name of the witness was not on the list of witnesses submitted in court and made available to parties.

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and lead counsel to Dasuki, Mr joseph Bodunrin Daudu (SAN) had urged the court to disallow the witness from further testifying.

Daudu had invited the court to take judicial notice of section 397 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 which requires both prosecution and the defence to make the lists of their witnesses available to court and parties so that no party is caught unaware by the testimony of other.

A person who is summoned as a witness, whether for the prosecution or for the defence, shall be bound to attend the court on the day fixed for the trial of the case and on subsequent dates until the conclusion of the case or until he has been discharged by the court from further attendance

He had argued that no witness whose name is missing from the list of witnesses could appear in court to testify because witness summons could only be issued on those on the list before the court.

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The trial judge, Hussein Baba-Yusuf, had agreed with Daudu (SAN) on Friday.

Specifically, he agreed with Mr. Daudu that all witnesses billed to testify against Mr. Dasuki must be listed in the witness list.

He consequently ordered the prosecution to make a copy of the list available to the court and also serve other defendants in the case.

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, had continued his testimony which he started on January 25.

Like a thunderbolt, the defence on Friday suddenly deployed section 397 of ACJA 2015 to destroy all the testimony of the EFCC’s witness  since January, this year regarding the case.

Specifically, Mr. Daudu had 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.

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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.

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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 charge against Dasuki