The trial of former National Security Adviser (NSA) Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki in the alleged diversion of $2.1billion arms funds is facing a fresh delay as the Federal Government filed 32 count amended charges against him and three others.
The filing of the amended charge is coming almost three years after the Federal Government arraigned the former NSA before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on 18 count charge.
In the amended charges names of prominent politicians from the opposition party are listed as beneficiaries of the alleged diversions
Apart from filing new charges with fresh names, a new twist was also introduced into the trial by the government as a key defendant in the matter. Salisu Shuaib, who was a former Director of Finance and Supply in the ONSA under Colonel Dasuki was dropped from the new charge.
The amended charge dated April 30, 2018 was signed by Mr Chile Okoroma, Director of Legal Services with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
No reason could be immediately obtained on why the former Director of Finance in ONSA who served along with Colonel Dasuki was dropped from the trial having being arraigned together since 2015.
However, lead counsel to Dasuki, Mr Ahmed Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who was sighted at the FCT High Court along with Dasuki told judiciary correspondents that he did not know the deal between Salisu Shuaib, the Federal Government and EFCC on the new twist.
Raji, however, said that subsequent events in the trial will reveal to the defendants and their counsel all the circumstances leading to the dropping of the core accused, adding that “till then we will keep our fingers crossed.”
Apart from Dasuki, other defendants in the amended charge are Aminu Baba Kusa, Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.
Prominent Nigerians alleged by the Federal Government to have been beneficiaries of money from the former NSA are the current National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, former Chairman Board of Trustee PDP, Tony Anenih; former PDP Spokesperson, Olisa Metuh; Publisher of Thisday, Nduka Obaigbena, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, Chairman DAAR Communications Plc, Raymond Dokpesi, Mouftah Baba-Ahmed, Bello Abba Mohammed, Bello Mohammed, AVM M. N Umar, Jonah Ogunniyi among others.
Meanwhile, Secondus and Dokpesi have since filed a separate suit against the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed over the inclusion of their names in the list of persons who have allegedly looted the nation’s treasury.
Media entrepreneur, Dokpesi, in the suit filed before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory instituted N5billion defamation suit against Mohammed.
Secondus, before a high court in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital asked the court to award him the sum of N1.5billion as damages for “humiliation, castigation, vilification attack on his person and integrity as a result of the publication.”
It would be recalled that Dasuki, Salisu Shuaibu and three others were arraigned in 2015 on the same charge and pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
They were subsequently admitted to bail but however, Colonel Dasuki was re-arrested after perfecting the bail conditions on December 29, 2015, and had been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) without filing any other charge against him.
The trial had since suffered series of delays at the instance of the Federal Government most especially in the inability of the DSS to produce the ex-NSA in court for trial as required by law.
Meanwhile, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the FCT High Court is expected to take the fresh plea of the four defendants on May 17, 2018.