Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday accused the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), of compromising the security of the nation and committing economic sabotage through his alleged diversion of over N32bn meant for the purchase of arms to fight terrorists in the North -East.
The commission, which also gave more details about the alleged diversion of funds meant for the purchase of arms by the office of the NSA during Dasuki’s tenure, said there were documents showing that the ex-NSA gave the approval for the release of the funds to the accounts of private companies and individuals for the procurement of arms.
EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said this before Justice Yusuf Baba of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, while opposing the bail applications filed by Dasuki and his co-accused persons, who are being prosecuted on 19 counts of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and dishonest misappropriation of the money.
The other accused persons, who had pleaded not guilty to all the 19 counts on Monday, are a former Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, and a former Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Aminu Baba-Kusa, and two companies.
The two companies, in which Baba-Kusa are their directors, are Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.
Jacobs, who said the accused persons were still under investigation for other “aspects of the case”, added that the EFCC was still tracing assets linked to the proceeds of the diversion of the funds.
The EFCC, however, alleged that Dasuki had purchased houses in London and Dubai with the proceeds of the funds meant for the purchase of arms for the soldiers battling the terror group, Boko Haram, in the North-East states.
The prosecution also alleged in its counter-affidavit that Dasuki transferred huge sums of money to companies whose identities were still being traced, adding that he transferred large sums of money outside Nigeria to acquire “several assets in Dubai and London.’’
Its counter-affidavit also read, “That our investigation also revealed that the applicant transferred large sums of monies outside Nigeria and he acquired several assets in Dubai and London with these funds.”
The defence lawyers, representing the accused persons – Ahmed Raji (SAN) for Dasuki, A. U. Mustapha for Salisu, and Solomon Umoh (SAN) for Baba-Kusa and his companies – had, while moving their respective bail applications, maintained that the charges filed before the court did not indicate that the money in question was meant for the procurement of arms.
But Jacobs, in picking holes in the lawyers’ contention, referred the judge to pages 14 to 58 of the prosecution’s proof of evidence, which he said contained documents detailing the approval of the former NSA for the release of various sums of money to individuals and private companies for the procurement of arms.
Jacobs said, “In our proof of evidence, we mentioned security money meant for purchase of arms. We also mentioned security equipment, but they decided not to look at it.
‘‘Page 14 to page 58 of our proof of evidence showed approval for the supply of security equipment, satellite and arms. All the charges we filed were based on funds approved for the purchase of arms.”
In a counter-affidavit, deposed to by an EFCC detective, Hassan Saidu, the anti-graft agency alleged that the funds were released to private companies and individuals “who have nothing to do with the supply of security equipment or rendering security services”.
According to the 19 charges preferred against the accused persons, Dasuki, Salisu and Senior Special Assistant, Domestic Affairs to the President, Waripamowei Dudafa, released N10bn to the Peoples Democratic Party for the presidential primary delegates.
It was also alleged that N2.1bn was paid into the account of DAAR Investment and Holding Company Limited, controlled by one Dr. Raymond Dokpesi for the funding of media activities for the 2015 Presidential Election Campaign for the PDP.
The sum of N1.45bn was also allegedly paid to Acacia Holdings Limited, controlled by Baba-Kusa, to organise prayers.
Again, the sum of N750m was allegedly paid to Reliance Referral Hospital Limited in favour of Baba-Kusa for prayers.
Belsha Nigeria Limited, controlled by Bello Matanwalle, was also said to have received N380m to support some members of the House of Representatives for their re-election campaign.
General Hydrocarbons Limited controlled by Thisday publisher, Nduka Obaigbena was also said to have received N670m for “energy consulting”.
The office of the NSA was also said to have paid N260m to a former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, who was also the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, during the March 28 presidential election.
Senator Iyorchia Ayu was also said to have received N345m for the construction of shopping mall at Jabi, Abuja, purporting the said sum to be payment for satellite charges and security equipment.
EFCC said in its counter-affidavit that it was in the interest of the accused persons to remain in protective custody in order to shield them from being attacked by relatives of innocent soldiers who were drafted to fight Boko Haram without sufficient equipment.
The affidavit read in part, “That the charges being alleged against the defendant/applicant (Dasuki) border on economic sabotage that strikes at the very foundation of Nigeria well-being and existence.
“That it is in the interest of justice to put the applicant in protective custody so as to shield him from a possible attack by the relatives of the innocent soldiers, who lost their lives due to lack of adequate equipment; innocent soldiers who lost their lives due to lack of adequate facilities caused by the diversion of the funds meant for that purpose.
“Apart from the cases that are pending against the applicant, he’s also being investigated in respect of other criminal allegations.”
Jacobs said during the hearing that “investigation into other aspects is still ongoing. There is still investigation into assets tracing.”
He urged the court not to grant bail to Dasuki, whom he said “will escape from the jurisdiction of the honourable court from Nigeria”, adding that “the applicant will not be available to stand trial if released on bail.”
In moving their separate applications for bail, the defence counsel urged the court not to rely on the proof of evidence filed by the prosecution, arguing that doing so would run contrary to the presumption of innocence, which their clients were entitled to under the Constitution.
They maintained that the allegation that their clients would interfere with the prosecution witnesses was speculative.
They added that the provisions of Section 162 of the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act had placed the onus on the prosecution to prove why bail, which, according to them, is “almost automatic” for the accused persons, should not be granted to them.
Raji said, “The prosecution has made strenuous attempt to rely on the proof of evidence in urging your lordship not to grant bail.
“It is my argument that to rely on proof of evidence will violate the principle of presumption of innocence because they have not been tested.”
Raji urged the court to grant bail to Dasuki on condition of self-recognition and seizure of his passport as granted to him by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja, where the accused person is being prosecuted for illegal possession of firearms and money laundering.
Justice Baba has adjourned ruling on the bail application till Friday.
Meanwhile, the EFCC on Tuesday arraigned a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda; a former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; his son, Sagir Attahiru; and their firm – Dalhatu Investment – on 22 counts of misappropriation of about N13bn meant for the purchase of arms by the Office of the NSA.
Also arraigned along with them, before Justice Peter Affen of the same FCT in Maitama, are Dasuki and Salisu.
The accused were said to have misappropriated the money between August 2013 and May 7, 2015.
All the accused were arraigned before Justice Peter Affen, who had, on Monday, granted leave to the EFCC to prefer the charges against the accused persons.
They pleaded not guilty to 22 counts of conspiracy, dishonest receipt of stolen property in breach of sections 97 and 317 of the Penal Code Act as well as receipt of proceeds of criminal conduct in breach of Section 17(b) of the EFCC Act.
After the arraignment on Tuesday, Justice Affen fixed Wednesday for hearing of the accused persons’ bail applications.