Alex Enumah in Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that the weapons allegedly found in the house of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) be displayed in the open court by the Department of State Service (DSS).
The court also ruled that the weapons comprising various guns be tendered as exhibits by the DSS in the trial of ex-NSA in the charges of unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering brought against Dasuki by the federal government.
Delivering a ruling in an objection against the public display of the weapons in the open court by Dasuki, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that it was in the interest of justice and fair play to both the prosecution and the defence that the alleged weapons be displayed in the court.
Justice Mohammed said that Dasuki as a defendant in the trial would not be prejudiced if the alleged weapons were displayed and tendered as exhibit by those who investigated the allegations against him.
Besides, Justice Mohammed said the weapons were listed in the proof of evidence already made available to the ex-NSA by government which put him on trial.
A prosecution witness, Mr Williams Obiara, an operative of DSS, who testified behind a veil, was requested by the prosecution counsel, Oladipupo Okpeseyi (SAN), to identify and display in the open court the weapons allegedly found in Dasukiâ€™s house in 2015, four days after the change of government.
However, Dasukiâ€™s counsel, Adeola Adedipe, objected to the move on the grounds that the trial is being conducted in semi- secrecy in compliance with the decision of the court made on June 2015.
The objection was founded on section 190 of the Evidence Act, section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA), 2015 as well as section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, adding that since the witness was testifying behind a veil, it is normal and appropriate that the weapons be displayed in the chamber of the judge.
However, governmentâ€™s counsel urged the court to dismiss the objection on the grounds that it was only official record of the state that cannot be displayed in the open court and not items recovered in the house of a suspect during investigation.
Justice Mohammed agreed with the prosecution and ordered that the weapons be brought to court for display on May 22 and 24, 2018, when the trial is expected to resume.
Earlier in his evidence, Obiora had told the judge that he was part of the team ordered by the Director General of DSS in 2015 to carry out search on Dasukiâ€™s house based on intelligence report that weapons injurious to national security were in his house.
He testified that the team led by one Ali Burara, armed with a search warrant, arrived at Dasukiâ€™s house in Asokoro and met a retinue of armed soldiers, who prevented then from conducting the search.
The witness told the court that after about three hours, a military truck arrived the house and moved the soldiers out of the house to pave the way for the search during which weapons were found and recorded on the search warrant.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned till May 22 and 24 for the display of the said weapons and continuation of trial.