A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered former President Goodluck Jonathan and his former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki to testify before it on Monday.
Justice Okon Abang gave the order yesterday in a ruling on the invitation of the two men by former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Olisa Metuh as defence witnesses.
Justice Abang also ordered the court bailiff five days within which to effect personal service of subpoena (witness summons) issued on Jonathan.
The court had on Tuesday adjourned the criminal trial to yesterday for Jonathan and Dasuki, who were subpoenaed on the request of Metuh, to appear and testify as defence witnesses.
At the resumption of proceedings yesterday, neither Jonathan nor Dasuki was in court.
While there was evidence that Dasuki had been served with the witness summons, the court noted that its bailiff was not yet able to serve Jonathan.
When asked what further steps should be taken, prosecuting lawyer Sylvester Tahir, urged the court to order substituted service since personal service has failed.
As it relates to Dasuki, Tahir asked the court to apply the provision of Section 246(1) (a) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
“There was a report on Monday that Dasuki has been served on October 18. Today is the return date. The witness that has been served is not here.”
“Section 246(1)(a) of ACJA has addressed the situation at hand. It says ‘A witness, who refuses or neglect without reasonable excuse, to attend court in response to a witness summons is liable to a summary conviction and sentencing to fine of N10,000 or imprisonment of two months.”
When asked by the court, as the lawyer to the complainant what steps he has taken to ensure that an agency of Federal Government (DSS) comply with the order made by Court of Appeal on September 29, Tahir said he had reported to his employer, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Lawyers for the defence, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) objected to the position canvassed by Tahir.
They urged the court to ensure that more attempt were made to serve Jonathan personally before the option of substituted means could be considered.
Justice Abang agreed with the submissions of the defence lawyers and directed that further attempt should be made at serving Jonathan personally, failing which the option of substituted means could be explored.
On Dasuki, he directed that the issue should be handled administratively since the case was being prosecuted by an agency of the Federal Government (the EFCC) and Dasuki was being held by another agency of the Federal Government (DSS).
He said the court would be unable to make meaningful progress where Dasuki and Jonathan fail to attend court as directed:
“As regards His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who is not in court today, it is on record that he is yet to be served the witness summon.”
“The court cannot apportion blame to him for his failure to be in court today.”
“It is my humble view that service of court process on the witness or a party goes to the root of adjudication, absence of which will nullify proceedings; no matter how well-conducted.”
“It is not sufficient that the bailiff of the court made only one attempt to serve him with the witness summon.”
“The bailiff is hereby directed to make further attempts in effecting personal service of the witness summon on His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.”
“If personal service cannot be effected, it is only reasonable that the first defendant has a duty to apply for leave to serve His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan by substituted means. I so hold.”
The judge then scheduled both Jonathan and Dasuki to appear in court on October 31.
In an earlier ruling, Justice Abang struck out the motion filed by Dasuki, seeking the setting aside of the subpoena issued on him.
Dasuki had argued that he was not in the right frame of mind to testify in the case because he has been held in custody since December 2015 and could no longer remember all that happened while he was in office.
The EFCC is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, on seven counts of money laundering involving alleged cash transaction of $2 million and fraudulent receipt of N400 million meant for procurement of arms from the Office of the NSA.