February 28, 2024

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday gave the court bailiff five days to serve former President Goodluck Jonathan with the witness summon, compelling him to appear in court with respect to the trial of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh.

The counsel of the EFCC prosecuting Metuh’s case, Mr. Sylvaus Tahir was also directed to persuade the EFCC to activate administrative means to ensure that Department of State Security produced the Former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki who is in their custody.

The judge handling the trial, Justice Okon Abang ordered the court’s bailiff to serve Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Sol. Dasuki subpoena compelling the duo o appear before him on October 31st.

The judge ruled, “Col. Dasuki (retd.), His Excellency, Goodluck Jonathan, are not in court today (Wednesday) to give evidence in this matter.

“As regards Col. Dasuki (retd.), there is proof of service by the order of the Court of Appeal in appeal number CA/A/159C/17, has been complied with by serving the subpoena on the DSS to produce Col. Dasuki today. No reason has been offered and he is not produced in court today.

“As regards the production of Col. Dasuki in court today, at the subsequent hearing of this matter, this will be addressed administratively.

“From the judgment of the Court of Appeal dated September 29, 2017, it is stated that Col. Dasuki, in the custody of the DSS, which is an organ or an integral part of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the learned counsel representing the Federal Government of Nigeria in this matter must persuade his client, that is the Federal Government of Nigeria, to produce Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) in court at the next adjourned date, failing which it will be extremely difficult for the court to make progress in this matter.

“As regards His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who is not in court today, it is on record that he has 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 court only made one attempt to serve him with the witness summon.

“On this, I agree entirely with the learned counsel for the first defendant (Metuh), Dr. O. Ikpeazu (SAN), that it cannot be exercise of due diligence on the part of the bailiff to have His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, served with the witness summon on only one attempt.

“The bailiff is hereby directed to make further attempts in effecting personal service of the witness summon on His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

“Although the law does not state the number of attempts to be made in effecting personal service, one attempt, in my view, is not sufficient.

“The bailiff of court is hereby given five days from today to effect personal service of the subpoena on His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

“Thereafter, the law will take its course.

“However, if personal service cannot be effected, it can be served by substituted means.

“For this purpose, the bailiff, under section 124 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, is an agent of the first defendant, Olisa Metuh, for the purpose of substituted service of process on His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

“The bailiff is the agent of the first defendant for the purpose of substituted service. This is because the first defendant elected to call him (Jonathan), not the court.

“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.

The court ruled, “In the light of the above, the matter will be adjourned again, at the instance of the first defendant, to enable the subpoenaed witnesses to be in court.

“This matter is, therefore, adjourned until October 31 to enable the subpoenaed witness – Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) and His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to give evidence at the instance of the first defendant.”

 

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