FORMER National Security Adviser (NSA) Colonel Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (retd), on Thursday, told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he was being punished by some persons at the highest level in the country for the perceived offences he committed some years ago while in the military.
Dasuki, who did not name any particular person, said the punishment being meted on him was unfortunate and borne out of mere vendetta.
The former NSA, in an emotion-laden submissions, while reacting to the Federal Government’s request for his secret trial, through his counsel, Joseph Daudu, told the court that he had rested his case in God for the ultimate judgment.
“It is crystal clear that the defendant (Dasuki) is being punished by the powers that be for the offences committed long before now. We leave them to the Almighty God for ultimate judgment.”
Dasuki was arraigned before three different high courts for various offences and was granted bail, but was rearrested in December, last year, by the Federal Government and had since been held incommunicado.
At the resumed trial on Thursday, the Federal Government had approached the court, seeking secret trial of Dasuki, who is facing charges of unlawful possession of firearms, money laundering and breach of trust.
In the fresh motion argued by the prosecuting counsel, Chief Dipo Okpeseyi, government prayed the court to allow witnesses give evidence behind the screen to be provided by the court.
He held that the request hinged on the fact that Dasuki, as a former military chief, had large loyalists across the country who might jeopardise the trial if done in the open.
He further submitted that Dasuki had, in the recent past, held the highest security office in the country and had loyalists in the security circle whose loyalty had been transferred to personality and whose actions might be inimical to prosecution witnesses, some of whom were still in the service.
Okpeseyi cited the case of the government witness who was involved in a serious accident, resulting in multiple fractures and injuries, but, however, stated that inasmuchas he would not allude that Dasuki had a hand in the accident, it heightened the need to have the witnesses protected by the court.
He further submitted that in the highest military office where Dasuki served last, loyalty was the first, second and last rule and, because of the peculiar nature of loyalty some persons have for him within the military and beyond, those to give evidence in the trial were, at one time or the other, staff of the defendant.
He stressed that since the witnesses were those of the court whose primary duty was to assist the court arrive at a just conclusion, the issue of security must be viewed with all seriousness.
He, therefore, urged Justice Adeniyi Ademola to screen the witnesses from the public in the interest of justice, and to protect them, their families and career.
But counsel for Dasuki, Daudu, vehemently opposed the request for secret trial of Dasuki and held that it would breach the principle of fair trial.
He added that, contrary to the position of the government, Dasuki could not be a threat to the witnesses, as he had been in the custody of the Federal Government since December, last year.
Daudu argued that open trial was the minimum requirement in a criminal trial, and, as such, any attempt to opt for a secret trial in the instant case, which was not a capital offence, would run contrary to Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution on fail trial.
The defence counsel, therefore, asked the court to discountenance the claim made by the prosecution on the issue of loyalty in the military circle, stressing that such claim was a mere speculation and not backed up by facts.
On the accident of the witness, Daudu told the court that the accident would not have been caused by Dasuki, who had been in government’s custody for almost a year, adding that the alleged accident had no bearing with the request for secret trial.
He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the application for secret trial as such will trample on the rights of the defendant to fair trial.
Justice Ademola, after taking argument from both parties, fixed ruling and continuation of trial for September 13, 14 and 15, 2016.