Dasuki Court resumes trial of ex-NSA's aide as EFCC retracts false publication

The Federal High Court in Abuja had on March 21 ordered the EFCC to retract an offensive press statement issued by the agency.

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Former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki (R) allegedly oversaw a sprawling embezzlement scheme that saw "phantom contracts" awarded for personal gain, as under-equipped troops fought better-armed militants play

Former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki (R) allegedly oversaw a sprawling embezzlement scheme that saw "phantom contracts" awarded for personal gain, as under-equipped troops fought better-armed militants

(AFP/File)
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The trial of Col. Nicholas Ashinze, an aide to Sambo Dasuki resumed on Thursday, May 4.

The resumed hearing followed the retraction of the falsified publication by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

Ashinze is standing trial with Wolfgang Reinl, an Austrian, Edidiong Idiong and Sagir Mohammed, on a 13-count bordering on money laundering.

Other defendants in the case are five companies - Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organisation, Vibrant Resource Limited and Sologic Integrated Service Limited.

NAN reports that Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had on March 21 ordered the EFCC to retract an offensive press statement issued by the agency.

The statement, published in Vanguard Newspaper, referred to Ashinze as a retired officer and that he was never charged by the EFCC for any offence on diversion and misappropriation of N36 billion.

Kolawole had also ordered that the Deputy Registrar, Litigation, of the court to liaise with the Deputy Sheriff to ensure that the March 21 order was served on the paper's Editor-in-Chief.

He said the relevant officer of the newspaper must come before the court on May 4 to show where it (newspaper) got the March 8 publication on the N36.8 billion fraud charge against the defendant.

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At the resumed hearing, the prosecuting counsel, Ofem Uket, informed the court that the said statement which was misreported had been retracted and published on ThisDay Newspaper dated April 12.

The prosecution also told the court that he has in his possession a certified true copy of the retracted newspaper report and has given the defence counsel a copy of the report.

After back and forth argument by counsels on the legitimacy of the retraction, the judge said the court is satisfied with the retraction.

An EFCC investigator Hassan Seidu, who is a witness in the ongoing trial, continued his testimony on how the defendants got N5.6 billion from Office of National Security Adviser.

Seidu said in the course of their investigation, the EFCC requested from Corporate Affairs Commission a certified true copy of registration of six companies which was sent and forwarded through the executive chairman of the anti-graft agency.

The defence team opposed to the admissibility of the document, stating they are not reliable after the prosecution prayed the court to admit the documents in evidence.

In their argument, the defence said there is no evidence of payment of the prescribed fees as approved by the Minister of Trade.

More so, that the said document has no name and certified signature, hence, the document failed to meet the provision of Section 379 sub.1 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) of 2015.

The counsel, however, urged the court to take judicial notice as no proof of payment was made in relations to the documents and asked the court to "consign the document to the dustbin."

The prosecution while addressing the court withdrew the document and promised he will do the needful in certifying the documents.

The judge adjourned the case until June 12, 20, July 5 and 11 for further hearing.