By Tobi Soniyi
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has rejected the application of the Federal Government to try former National Security Adviser, Colonel Muhammad Sambo Dasuki (rtd) in secret.
However, the court also refused to discharge Dasuki for the recent refusal of government to allow him enjoy the bail granted him by the courts. The court said he should have initiated contempt proceedings against government.
Dasuki was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering in September 2015.
The court said that there was no point for the witnesses to be called to testify in the case against Dasuki to wear masks and bear pseudo names and addresses so as to facilitate their protection.
Delivering ruling in an application for secret trial of former NSA, Justice Adeniyi Ademola held that the federal government had in the charge against Dasuki listed the names and addresses of 11 witnesses to be called to testify against him and made same available to the general public and as such there was no basis for any hide and seek game in Dasuki’s trial.
Justice Ademola in the ruling that lasted over one hour, rejected the plea by government that Dasuki’s trial be held in privacy and that only lawyers and accredited journalists be allowed during the trial.
Justice Ademola said that there was no basis to grant the request of government to make the witnesses wear special mask, bear pseudo names and addresses because the charges against were not terrorism charges and that there was no information that the life of any of the witnesses billed to be called was being threatened by anybody or group.
The court held that although, it has the discretion to look into such issues of protection of witnesses in a criminal matter but that such discretion must be judicially and judiciously used only in cases where threat to life had been established by the prosecution.
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