Former Sokoto State Governor, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, his son Sagir Attahiru and their family company, Dalhatu Investment Ltd have applied for a separate trial from former National Security Adviser (NSA)’ retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, a move which has introduced a new twist to the arms deal saga for which the erstwhile NSA has been held since 2015.
The criminal charge of diversion of $2.1bn arms fund was brought against them by the Federal government in 2015.
The ex-Governor and his son who are 4th, 5th and 6th defendants in the criminal charge slammed on them by government in 2015 claim that the long drag of the trial has been oppressive.
The defendants brought a motion before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, complaining that the continuous unnecessary delay of their trial along with Dasuki is negatively affecting their family business and detrimental to their advantage.
In their motion argued by their counsel, Dr. Kayode Olatoke SAN, the former governor and his son claimed that they can be separately tried outside Dasuki to ensure speedy and accelerated trial of the offences allegedly committed by them. They further claimed that filing a joint charge against them and others for the alleged offences allegedly committed together was not a bar to their being prosecuted separately as non of the parties involved in the trial will be jeopardize.
Besides, Bafarawa and his son insisted that their separate trial outside Dasuki will guarantee their constitutional rights to a speedy trial within reasonable time in line with section 36 of the 1999 constitution. In a 15 paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, the applicants claimed that since the trial began in 2015 no reasonable progress had been made because other parties had brought different motion to the court to challenge jurisdiction and to have the charges quashed.
However, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission in opposition urged the court to dismiss the motion for lacking in merit and for being in contravention of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
In the counter motion argued by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) he claimed that Bafarawa, his son and their family company, Dalhatu Investment Ltd were properly joined with Dasuki, Bashiru Yuguda and Shuaibu Salisu for their joint roles in the diversion of the public fund and for conspiracy.
Jacobs informed the court that Dalhatu investment owned by Bafarawa and his son was the receiver of the alleged stolen fund into its UBA bank account and that once their charge with Dasuki is separated it would be practically and legally impossible to prove the Case of conspiracy.
The prosecution counsel further argued that separation of the trial as canvassed by the applicants will further delay the speedy trial of the joint charge and that the prosecution is fully prepared to prove the case against the defendants within a reasonable time.
Also opposing the motion for separate trial former National Security Adviser. Col. Sambo Dasuki said that his joint trial with Bafarawa and others is not negotiable because of the nature and circumstances of the charges.
Dasuki who was represented in court by Adeola Adedipe argued that Bafarawa and his son cannot be tried outside him without fundamental amendment to the present charge against them, adding that the offence of conspiracy cannot be tried separately.