Posted by News Express | 19 April 2016 | 1,968 times
The Federal Government today lost its bid at the Federal High Court Abuja to conduct a secret trial of former National Security Adviser, Colonel Muhammad Sambo Dasuki (Rtd), in the charges of unlawful possession of firearm and money laundering brought against him in September 2015.
The court said that there was no point for the witnesses billed to be called to testify in the matter 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 its charges listed the names and addresses of 11 witnesses to be called to testify against Dasuki and made same available to the general public and as such there was no basis for any hide and seek game in the trial.
Justice Ademola in the ruling that lasted over one hour rejected the plea by government that the court during Dasuki’s trial be shut against the general public except the lawyers involved in the trial and accredited journalists.
Justice Ademola said that there was no basis to grant the request because the charges against Dasuki were not terrorism-related and that there was no information that the life of any of the witnesses billed to be called was being threatened by anybody of group.
The court held that although it has the discretion to look into such issues of protection of witnesses in a criminal matter, such discretions must be judicially and judiciously used only in cases where threat to life has been established by the prosecution.
In the instance case, Justice Ademola said that government failed to establish any fact that life of its witnesses was being threatened and as such no court of law would accede to such requests without established reason.
The judge had earlier ordered the Federal Government and its agent the Department of States Security Service (DSS) to henceforth allow the detained former NSA to have access to his lawyers and family members in the interest of justice and the rule of law.
Justice Ademola issued the order following complains by counsel to Dasuki, Mr Ahmed Raji, SAN, that his client was being held incommunicado since December 2015.
The judge, who was not comfortable with the complaints of Dasuki’s lawyer, gave a ruling in which he ordered that Tuesdays and Thursdays be set aside for Dasuki to have free access to his lawyers and family members for at least two hours of the day.
The court ordered that the meeting of Dasuki with his lawyers and family members should take place at the Interview Room of DSS Headquarters and the Federal High Court premises in Abuja unhindered. In the order, the judge granted the defendant access to four lawyers and two members of the family on the dates and venues chosen by the court.
Justice Ademola after issuing the order, which he said must be complied with by the Federal Government, adjourned the trial of the former NSA till May 18-19, 2016 at the instance of lawyers for both parties.
It was not, however, all victory for Dasuki, as the judge refused to discharge him and prohibit the Federal Government from prosecuting him on the ground of the refusal to allow him enjoy the bail granted him.
In his ruling, Justice Ademola said that Dasuki ought to have filed contempt charges against the Federal Government for the disobedience to lawful court orders made last year admitting him to bail and permitting him to go abroad for his medical check-up.
The court said that since due process was not followed by a way of contempt charge, there was no way the court would have discharged the defendant and prohibit his trial by the Federal Government.
Raji had complained that his team could not prepare adequate defence because the DSS has rebuffed all efforts to see the client. The counsel told the judge that the uncooperative attitudes of the DSS got to the peak when the 95-year-old father of Dasuki and former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki along with other family members were denied access to their son in custody. (PRNigeria)
•Photo shows Sambo Dasuki.
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