AN Abuja High Court has knocked off an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Michael Adariku, who was billed to testify against the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, in the charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
Dasuki, through his counsel, Joseph Daudu, had protested vehemently against the inclusion of the EFCC operative on the ground that he was not listed on the witnesses list as demanded by Section 397 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
Daudu informed Justice Baba Yusuf that Dasuki and four others, who are being prosecuted by government on alleged fraud, had been ambushed by the introduction of a witness not listed in the list.
The senior counsel insisted that it is the requirement that all witnesses in a criminal matter must be listed and that the list of the witnesses must be served on the defendant to enable them know the background and be prepared to cross-examine the witness.
In the instance case, Daudu submitted that the defendants have been disadvantaged because they are not aware of the witness and are not having his background upon which they can effectively cross-examine him on his evidence-in-chief.
He urged Justice Yusuf to disallow the witness from giving evidence against Dasuki in the interest of justice, fair play and equity.
Daudu further contended that the court cannot use its discretion to overturn a provision of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act on the ground that it is mandatory for the prosecution to make the witness known to the defendants ahead of the trial.
However the Federal Government- counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, urged the court to discountenance the objection of the ex-NSA to the EFCC operative as a witness, adding that the said operative had started giving evidence since January.
Jacob insisted that it is too late in the day for the defendants to object or to seek disqualification of a person who had already started giving evidence simply because the name of the person doesn”t appear in the witness list.
Besides, the EFCC counsel submitted that the EFCC operative who led the team that investigated the case against Dasuki and others had made his statement since 2015 and served in the defendants without any objections.
In the alternative, Jacob pleaded with the court to allow him some time to put his house in order on the issue of the witness list.
Other lawyers in the matter aligned themselves with the position of Daudu that it is a clear law that anybody wishing to testify in a criminal matter must be listed in the witness list.
Justice Yusuf after listening to both parties agreed with Dasuki that all witnesses billed to testify against him must be listed in the witness list and that a copy of the list must be made available to him in line with provisions of the law and in the interest of justice and fair play.
The judge ordered the EFCC operative, who was already in the witness box, to step down.
Consequently the court adjourned the matter till May 16, 17 and 18 2017 in agreement with lawyers involved in the matter.
Dasuki is being tried along with Shuaibu Salisu, a former Director of Finance in the Office of the National Security Adviser; Aminu Babakusa; Acacia Holdings Limited; and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited on charges of corruption and money laundering.