A major twist has crept into the prosecution of the alleged $2.1 billion arms fund diversion charges as former Sokoto State Governor, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa; his son, Sagir Attahiru; and their family company, Dalhatu Investment Limited, have applied for a separate trial from former National Security Adviser, retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki.
The criminal charge of diversion of $2.1 billion arms fund was brought against them by the Federal Government in 2015.
The ex-Governor, his son and company, who are 4th, 5th and 6th defendants in the criminal charge slammed on them by the government in 2015, are claiming that the joint trial with others is oppressive to them.
To justify their anger against joint trial, the three defendants brought a motion before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, complaining that the continuous unnecessary delay of their trial along with Dasuki is negatively affecting their family business and detrimental to them.
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 been prosecuted separately as none 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 motions to the court to challenge jurisdiction and to have the charges quashed.
In the affidavit deposed to by one Bolatito Oguntoye, they asserted that they are ready and willing to assist the court with speedy trial if their charge was separated from others.
They claimed that although they were charged with others in the alleged offence, the role of each accused person in the transaction that led to the joint charge are distinct and that the proof of evidence touched on each of the accused person personally and can be taken against them.
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 Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), he claimed that Bafarawa, his son and their family company, Dalhatu Investment Limited, 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 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, Dasuki said 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.
Adedipe argued: “May I inform this court that the motion of the applicants is incurably defective because of the failure to first seek for the amendment of the joint charge.
“There has to be one step at a time in a uniform or joint charge. The applicants seek for fundamental amendment of the current charge before they can talk of demand for separate trial.”
Dasuki claimed that he was ready and willing to stand for speedy trial, but for the refusal of the complainant to allow him enjoy the bail granted him by court and the refusal to allow him unfettered access to his lawyers.
Justice Baba-Yusuf after taken arguments from lawyers fixed ruling for October 19.