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Counsel seeks secrecy for witnesses in Shiites’ trial

By Saxone Akhaine, Northern Bureau Chief
27 July 2016   |   12:46 am
Counsel to the Kaduna government in the trial of 81 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shiites, yesterday urged a state High Court to allow their witnesses testify in private.
Court

Court

Counsel to the Kaduna government in the trial of 81 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shiites, yesterday urged a state High Court to allow their witnesses testify in private.

The accused are standing trial for alleged culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disturbance of public peace following the clash last December between soldiers and Shiites in Zaria.

Arguing his motion filed yesterday, the Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Dari Bayero, told the court presided over by Justice David Wyoms that the prosecution wants its nine witnesses to give testimony in camera.

They include Colonels A.K Ibrahim, Sani K. Usman, Mohammed Fago and Y. Ali.

Others are Lt. Colonel P. Kulawe, Nasiru Wowo, Jiya Mahmud Liman, Kanafa Suleiman and an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Tanimu Jeremia.

Bayero, who supported his application with a nine-paragraph affidavit, informed the court that the witnesses were principal officers in charge of their units and formations in the Nigerian Army, stressing that because of the role they played in the events leading to the charge, they received various threats to life

He, therefore, urged the court to protect the witnesses.

Responding, lawyer to the Shiites, Maxwell Kyon, who held brief for the lead counsel, Mr. Festus Okoye, contended that: “The issue before the court does not bother on the personal liberty of the witnesses as they erroneously stated in their Motion paper and since the Motion was brought under Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, the implication is that the very foundation on which the application rests is faulty”.

Citing Section 36 of the constitution, Kyon noted that any person charged with the commission of a criminal offence ought to be given a fair hearing, saying, “one of the fundamental ingredients of fair hearing is that such an individual must be tried in the open”.

After entertaining arguments from all parties, Justice Wyoms subsequently reserved ruling on all applications for September 26.