By Abdulkadir Umar
The way and manner with which the case between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Col. Sambo Dasuki on one hand, and the State Security Service (SSS), also known as the Department of State Services (DSS), on the other hand, is being handled has no doubt opened the two agencies to scrutiny about the real motives behind the case.
In saner climes, criminal justice system holds that a defendant or a detainee is innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt each essential element of the crime charged.
The presumption of innocence is on the one who declares, not on one who denies which means that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty.
In fact, the belief that an accused person is innocent is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is regarded as an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
So, in the foregoing case between Col. Sambo Dasuki and the government agencies charging him for criminal misappropriation of public funds and other matters, he should be deemed to be innocent until the court decides otherwise.
It is however curious to note that not only is Sambo Dasuki being treated like a common criminal, his case is being bandied from one security agency to the other and the court orders for bail have been denied (thrice he has been granted bail and thrice, he has been denied the bail).
It is no longer news that Dasuki, who was charged to court by EFCC and granted bail was rearrested by the office of the DSS on some charges. So, as one agency is being ordered to grant him bail, especially as he requires medical attention, another agency grabs him and starts their own case against him afresh.
Justice Baba who listened to Dasuki’s application that the Federal Capital Territory High Court should prohibit the EFCC from prosecuting him over an alleged “brazen” disobedience of the orders of court granting him bail, held in his ruling on Monday that since it had been confirmed that Dasuki was being held by the Department of State Service, which “is a stranger” in the case, the EFCC which is prosecuting Dasuki and his co-accused could not be said to have violated the bail order.
It is very obvious now that there are several strangers in the now famous Dasuki case. There are the strangers on whose order Dasuki was ‘dishing’ out money to the many names being mentioned to have benefitted from the security votes.
There are strangers in form of security agents lurking around the corner to come up with newer allegations the moment one court is granting the accused bail and to whisk him away without allowing him as much as a reprieve.
There seems to even be many strangers who are desirous of keeping Dasuki away from medical attention thus exposing his health to grave dangers.
Since it seems Dasuki cannot enjoy the general principle of an accused being innocent until proven guilty, let us assume he is indeed a criminal.
Now, the question to ask is: are criminals not entitled to medical attention? Detention is certainly not the place to be when one is not medically fit. Stories have been told of how seriously ill people die as a result of medical negligence and some other factors while in detention.
Dasuki, like many other people in detention have become a case study of how not to treat those who require medical attention while in detention. Yes, they have a case to answer, but only living souls are taken to court for trial.
It is a known fact that people in detention sometimes fake being ill to get out of detention but not in a case where the detainee is not even given the chance to be examined by any doctor whatsoever (whether in detention or out of it).
Mr. President said himself that he has been traveling abroad for years to seek medical attention. That is good news. At least, it shows that he knows the value of getting medical help when the need arises. Why then has he turned the other ear to the demand of his former National Security Adviser (albeit for a short time)?
Dasuki has been known to suffer some medical conditions (that is to be expected at his age and considering years of serving the country without rest), he therefore needs access to medical attention – fast.
At least until the courts affirm that he is a criminal, he should be allowed right to his doctors. The situation now is that it is only his wife that is allowed to see him. Even his lawyers are not allowed to see their client except in court.
In all of these, many lawyers are watching without saying anything but they know that the judicial system is being made to stand on its head.
Something should be done fast to address cases like this (not for Dasuki alone). The international human rights communities should always rise to the occasion and help set things right so that we would not be setting the wrong precedence.
Access to medical and health care delivery is a right and not a spurious demand. Mr. President should please look into this and make the country proud as one that has respect for human rights.
The opinion expressed here represents that of the author and not of the newspaper.