Nigeria’s former national security advisor remains in custody as he is under investigation for alleged offences committed decades ago when he was an army officer, a state prosecutor said Thursday.
Sambo Dasuki is already facing three trials with a slew of charges in connection with looting billions of dollars that were supposed to go towards fighting Boko Haram Islamists.
He is one of just 55 people the Nigerian government claims stole more than $6 billion between 2006 and 2013, leaving Africa’s biggest economy reeling in the wake of the global oil price plunge.
But despite being granted bail in December, Dasuki has been kept in custody by Nigeria’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Services (DSS), without access to his legal counsel.
Prosecutor Rotimi Jacobs told an Abuja court that Dasuki was rearrested because the government is investigating an “alleged breach of service law” when he was serving as a colonel in the army before his retirement in 1994.
Defence lawyer Joseph Daudu said Dasuki — a powerful member of former president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration — is being denied the right to a fair trial and that all three cases against him should be dismissed.
“There’s really no way he can get a fair trial in the circumstances,” Daudu said to AFP, vowing if necessary to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
Dasuki is rumoured to have arrested Muhammadu Buhari at gunpoint when he was overthrown in a 1985 coup after serving nearly two years as head of a military government.
Daudu said that Dasuki will neither “confirm or deny” that rumour, but added there is “no love lost” between his client and Buhari, now Nigeria’s elected president.
Political analyst Chris Ngwodo said that far from settling old grievances, the ultimate reason for Dasuki’s continued incarceration is that the government is struggling to stitch together its case against him.
“What is the most important thing for them is for him to be in custody, they do not want to make him free,” Ngwodo said.
“So they are resorting to somewhat underhanded tactics,” Ngwodo said. “What they will keep doing is finding fresh ways of holding him in custody until they can fine tune their case.”