Federal High Court in Abuja has given permission to the Federal Government to conduct its case in the trial of ex-National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, in the absence of his lawyer.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the consent yesterday while ruling on an application by prosecution lawyer, Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), as the former NSA’s counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN), shunned court hearing for Body of Benchers at the Supreme Court.
Dasuki is being tried before the court on offences of alleged unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering.
When the case was called yesterday, Dasuki, dressed in white native attire, stood up from where he sat on the right corner of the court and went into the dock. But, his lawyer was absent.
An official of the court later drew the judge’s attention to a letter from Dasuki’s lawyer, explaining his absence and seeking an adjournment.
Daudu wrote the court to explain that he could not attend court because he was attending a meeting of the Body of Benchers at the Supreme Court.
Okpeseyi, who admitted being copied with the letter, said it was unfortunate that the defence lawyer chose the meeting of Body of Benchers over his client’s liberty and the court’s authority.
The prosecution lawyer, who agreed to return on the day suggested by Dasuki’s lawyer, prayed the court to allow the prosecution to proceed with its case should the defence lawyer fail again to turn up on the next adjourned date.
Justice Mohammed agreed with Okpeseyi that the adjournment sought by the defence “will definitely scuttle the trial, because if the court were to refuse the application, the trial would have proceeded in the absence of the defendant’s counsel.
“The defendant cannot defend himself if the trial is to go on. I am of the view that adjournment should be granted in the interest of justice.
“It is my hope however that the defence will sit up in this case so that trial will go on unabated.
“I agree with the prosecution counsel that, if the defence counsel is not present in court on the next adjourned date, or the defence is not ready to proceed on the next date, the prosecution is at liberty to proceed with the trial.”
Justice Mohammed consequently adjourned to April 9 for continuation of trial.
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A Report Of The Judgement Of The 16 Divisions Of The Court Of Appeal In Nigeria