Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan was a “vital witness” in the corruption case of his party’s spokesman, a court was told on Tuesday.
But officials have made three unsuccessful attempts to serve the former head of state with a summons to appear at the trial of Olisa Metuh, the Federal High Court in Abuja heard.
Metuh is charged with receiving 400 million naira ($1.1 million, 940,000 euros) from Jonathan’s national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
Dasuki is accused of using some $2 billion in defence funds earmarked for the fight against Boko Haram to help fund Jonathan’s re-election bid in 2015.
The Dasuki case is the highest-profile prosecution of President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign against endemic corruption.
Metuh maintains Jonathan was aware of the payment and his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba, said the presence of the former president would determine whether his client had a case to answer.
“We have earlier indicated that former President Goodluck Jonathan is a vital witness in this case.
“We have said that the need for (Metuh) to testify will only arise after we have appraised the evidence that will come from our next witness (Jonathan).
“We submit that it is only when former president Jonathan has testified that we will know whether the defence for the first defendant has been sufficiently made.”
Jonathan is not thought to have been questioned about any of the allegations. Etiaba told reporters outside court that it was “not asking for too much” for him to testify.
But prosecutor Sylvanus Tahir said Jonathan’s presence “should not be used as a ploy to arm-twist or tie down the hands of the court” and the defence had enough testimony.
An aide to Jonathan told the court bailiff that the ex-president would be available to receive the summons next Monday.
Dasuki, who is also using Jonathan as an alibi, denied illegally channelling the security funds to prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party when he appeared at the Metuh trial in November.