Personality of the Week: Sambo Dasuki


The court had granted him bail several times, but the government bluntly denied him freedom, alleging that he would jump bail. Consequently, at the last sitting of his trial, Dasuki refused to appear in the Federal High Court, Abuja, in protest against the continuation of his three-year criminal trial. In a letter he wrote to the court, he agitated for an end to ‘impunity’ being perpetrated by the Buhari administration, stating that there would be no need for him to continue to appear in court since the Federal Government does not obey the decision of the court.

His letter read in part: “The resolve to continue detaining me against the several orders of court and in brazen violation of the Constitution is wrongful and arbitrary.

“It has inflicted physical, emotional and psychological torture on my family and me. The decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria is not only high-handed, it is also arbitrary and in violation of both domestic and international laws on human rights.

“Prevailing circumstances have prompted me to write this letter to the court, the hope of every Nigerian citizen. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the current administration has so much interfered with the judicial system, such that it has become practically impossible for the court to maintain her independence, the administration of justice.”

With the tune of his letter, Dasuki has, no doubt, technically put the Federal Government on the defensive. Watching the intrigues that have been trailing the trial, several legal experts had voiced out against the administration’s refusal to grant the embattled NSA bail, saying it impinges the integrity of the judiciary, the last hope of the common man.

In the circumstance, the onus lies on the government to show proof that the trial is actually in the national interest rather than political vendetta as it is already been suggested in some quarters. An earlier statement credited to Dasuki that he became apprehensive after President Buhari, in his maiden Presidential Media Chat, insisted that the “weight of crimes” he allegedly committed against the Nigerian state, were such that if allowed to enjoy any form of freedom, he would likely jump bail further lends credence to this insinuation.

The simple inference people can draw from this is to see the prolonged trial as Buhari’s way of taking his own pound of flesh from Dasuki for his alleged role in the 1985 coup that ousted his erstwhile regime as military head of state.

One account of the story said that Dasuki was a financier and facilitator of the 1983 military coup that terminated Nigeria’s Second Republic and installed Buhari as Head of State. And on the other hand, another version of the power politics accused Dasuki of maltreating Buhari where he was detained after the coup.

The former NSA, exonerating himself from the latter allegation had said: “I always respect and dignify my seniors and those in positions of authority whether in service or after. Though a young officer, I was reluctant to be among those that arrested him (Buhari). And I was not. I only met him afterward at Bonny camp with Lawal Rafindadi. There is no way I could have maltreated him as being alleged in some quarters. I am glad most of the actors are still alive.”

Either rightly or wrongly, Buhari has an axe to grind with Dasuki. The general concern, however, is the propriety or otherwise of settling a score under the guise of national interest. By whatever reason the government is pursuing its cause, analysts say, continued detention of the former NSA leaves much to be desired and should be redressed in the interest of fairness and justice.

Born on December 2, 1954, Dasuki attended Kaduna Capital School for his elementary education and later Government College, Kaduna, for his secondary education. He entered the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1972 along other colleagues like Colonel Kayode Are, General Owoye Andrew Azazi, and Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, among others. Dasuki received his commission from the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1974 and subsequently posted to Army Headquarters platoon.

Dasuki who was a former military assistant to General Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi participated in the 1983 Nigerian coup d’état that installed Major General Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria Head of State. He was said to be among four majors (Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Lawan Gwadabe, and Abdulmumini Aminu) who arrested Buhari in the 1985 palace coup led by Major General Ibrahim Babangida, an allegation he has consistently denied. Following the coup, Dasuki was made Aide-de-camp (ADC) to General Ibrahim Babangida.