The federal government has again applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja for protection of prosecution witnesses in the ongoing corruption trial of former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki.
Dasuki is accused of unlawful possession of fire-arms, as well as misappropriation of $2.1 billion being funds meant for the procurement of arms for the Nigerian Armed Forces. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The fresh application was filed by Oladipo Okpeseyi, SAN, who was recently engaged by FG to lead the prosecution.
Okpeseyi insisted that the witnesses must be given protection by the court by not allowing their names and addresses to be made public in the course of the trial.
But in a strong opposition to the fresh request, Dasuki’s counsel, Ahmed Raji, urged the court to strike out the application for lack of merit and constituting gross abuse of court process.
Raji argued that there was no justification for the prosecution to have brought up the motion for secret trial for the second time having lost in the first motion.
He reminded the court that the federal government had on its own volition placed the charges against Dasuki on the internet, including the names, addresses and positions of the witnesses.
The defence counsel also recalled that when the then Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohamed Diri, was leading the prosecution, he had raised a similar motion, but Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who handled the case initially, struck it out, ruling that it was no longer necessary as all the witnesses had already been revealed by the prosecution.
Raji said that the Prosecution should have gone to the Appeal court if it was not satisfied with the decision of Justice Ademola, but not to raise the same motion a second time as it amounts to abuse of court process.
When the motion came up on Tuesday, the lead prosecutor Okpeseyi called for an adjournment to enable him study the voluminous counter affidavit served him by the defence team.
The prosecution counsel told the trial judge, Ahmed Mohammed, that so many fundamental issues were raised in the counter affidavit and that a number of authorities were also cited.
The defence did not object to the request for the adjournment and Justice Mohammed subsequently adjourned the case till March 1 for hearing of the motion.
Recall that the Department of State Services, on behalf of the federal government had brought a two-count charge of unlawful possession of fire-arms and money laundering against Dasuki in 2015.
The case was initially assigned to Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, but the judge withdrew himself from the case after he was arrested by the same DSS and sued for corruption in October 2016.
The withdrawal of justice Ademola from the trial prompted the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Justice Ibrahim Auta to transfer the case file to the present judge, Ahmed Ramat Mohammed.
Also recall that Justice Ademola had admitted Dasuki on bail, but the DSS refused to release him and the accused person has remained in custody since December 2015.
Other courts, including the ECOWAS Court, have also granted Dasuki bail, but he is still being kept in detention.