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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Angry judge withdraws from Dasuki trial, says EFCC ‘frustrating case’

Angry judge withdraws from Dasuki trial, says EFCC ‘frustrating case’

Gabriel Kolawole, presiding judge at a federal high court, Abuja, has withdrawn from the trial of  Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA).

Kolawole announced his decision in court on Thursday during the cross examination of Hassan Sheidu, an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) operative, serving as a witness in the trial of Nicholas Ashinze, a colonel in the Nigerian army.

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Kolawole, who accused the EFCC of frustrating the trial and attempting to hijack the court proceedings, returned the case file to Abdul Kafaratithe, chief judge of the court, for re-assignment to another court.

Ernest Nwoye, counsel to Ashinze, asked Sheidu, who conducted investigation into the case to confirm to the court, if the name “Nicholas Ashinze” appeared in any of the transactions relating to the N3.1 billion water project contract.

Nwoye also asked Sheidu whether the office of the NSA was responsible for payment of the contract and whether the office of secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which effected payment, at any point declared the water contract illegal.

Sheidu responded in the negative to both questions.

Nwoye further asked Sheidu to confirm to the court whether the contract was initiated by the office of the NSA where Ashinze served or the federal ministry of water resources, to which the EFCC witness said the contract was initiated by the latter.

Nwoye then asked Sheidu why Ashinze was being accused since all evidence do not indict him.

Ofem Uket, counsel to EFCC, this point objected to all the questions asked Sheidu.

After efforts by Kolawole to call Uket to order failed, the judge said he could no longer tolerate the conduct of EFCC in the trial and announced his withdrawal from the case.

This is the second time a judge will withdraw from the Dasuki trial which began in 2015.

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In October 2016, Adeniyi Ademola, then a justice of the federal high court, also withdrew from the trial after the Department of State Services (DSS) accused him of corruption.

The DSS had raided Ademola’s house and arrested him on October 7.

The secret police claimed it found huge sums of  foreign currencies in his possession.

In response to the allegations, Ademola wrote to the chief justice of Nigeria, claiming he was being harassed and intimidated by the DSS for granting bail to Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

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