Court to rule on screening of witnesses in Dasuki’s trial June 15
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, will on June 15, rule whether or not, to allow prosecution witnesses in the trial of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki, be shielded from public view.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, prosecution counsel, Ladipo Okeseyi, moved the application for screening of witnesses.Dasuki was re-arraigned before Justice Ahmed Mohammed on a seven-count amended charge.
Dasuki’s matter was before Justice Adeniyi Ademola and he was about to rule on the screening of witnesses when the case was transferred to Justice Mohammed.
Arguing the application for screening of witnesses, Okeseyi stated that the application was pursuant to Section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
Okeseyi added that the application was for leave of order to screen witnesses. Okeseyi also moved another application, seeking the defendant to be tried in camera.
However, defence counsel, Ahmed Raji, held that the offences, which witnesses are to be screened or masked as contained under section 321, are not among the charges brought against his client.
He noted that terrorism, trafficking in persons and economic crime charges under which witnesses can be screened have been expunged from charges against Dasuki, and consequently, there was no need to screen or mask witnesses.
He stated that a similar application was filed by the prosecution earlier and there was ruling on it. Raji also described the position of the prosecution that not screening witnesses could be harmful, as speculative.
Responding, Okeseyi stated that the court was not a Father Christmas that grants what has not been asked for. He added that the screening would not bar defence counsel to see the witness or take away the rights of the defendant to fair hearing. After listening to the argument from both sides, Justice Mohammed reserved ruling till June 15.