One of the judges arrested by the State Security Service SSS and an embattled Judge of the Federal High Court Abuja, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, has withdrawn from presiding over the trial of Col Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Dasuki was arraigned on September 1, 2015 over charges that bordered on unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering.
But due to intermittent interlocutory applications from both the prosecution and defence counsel, commencement of full blown trial of the former NSA has been delayed.
At a resumed sitting on Tuesday, the judge told the court that he was constrained to go ahead with hearing of the criminal case in view of the recent clampdown on some judges in the country by the DSS.
Addressing the court, Justice Ademola said, “I’m sure the prosecution and defence counsel are conversant with what is going on in the last seven days in this country.
“One of the allegations being made against me by the Department of State Security is that I received certain sums of unspecified money from the defendant.
“Of course, I have responded to that allegation of receiving an unspecified sums of money from the defendant but it will be wise for him to answer some questions.
“Do you know me at all or have come in contact with me?, the judge asked; “I don’t know you my Lord” Dasuki responded.
“Did you at any time give me money in respect of the ongoing trial” the judge asked, but Dasuki replied, “No, my Lord, I didn’t give you any money”.
Again, Justice Ademola queried, “Did you send any money to me; to any member of my family; or through any counsel?
But Dasuki answered: “No, my Lord, except the DSS agents who are reporting the allegation did”.
“I am happy that you have answered these questions. In the interest of fair hearing, I am minded to return the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for further action” Justice Ademola stated.
Reacting, the prosecution counsel said “We are guided by your Lordship’s decision even though we had come for a ruling and continuation of trial.
Adedeji acknowledged the recent happenings and said the judge was right to take that step.
Consequently, Okpeseyi requested for an adjournment so that the counsel and the Chief Judge would ruminate over the issue and take the next step rather than boxing the court into a tight corner.
After hearing from the counsels, Justice Ademola said, “This court is minded to transfer this case to the Chief Judge.
“The defendant has vehemently denied in open court today, the allegation made by the DSS.
“Therefore, this case file has been returned to the CJ in line with principle of fair hearing.
“This criminal matter has been adjourned to another date as may be fixed by the new judge” Justice Ademola declared.
Justice Ademola was among the judges arrested and held in the custody of the DSS over allegation of corruption.
However they have been granted administrative bail by the DSS.