Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday slated May 11 to hear an application brought before it, seeking the modification of its earlier order in the case of the alleged mastermind of the April 14, 2014 bomb blast that killed over 75 persons at a motor park in Nyanya ,Abuja, Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche and six others.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, the Prosecution Counsel and Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, M. S. Diri had, via an application, sought an order of the court modifying its ruling of 18 March, 2014.
The DPP, in the motion brought pursuant to section 6 (6) of the constitution and Order 6 Rule 17 of the Federal High Court Rules 2009, order 34 of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2013, as amended wants the court to direct the use of screens to shield prosecution witnesses from the public view.
He also wants the Court to also allow the lead counsel to the accused persons access to view the facial identity of the prosecution witnesses as well as an order permitting prosecution witnesses to be allowed access to the courtroom through a non public route.
A two-page affidavit in honour of the application averred that the prosecution witnesses will be more comfortable if the court provides a protective shield as a measure of protecting their identity while giving evidence.
The affidavit stated that the protective screen to be provided will ally the fears of the prosecution witnesses whose facial identities will be exposed only to the court and the lead counsel to the accused persons.
It said the witnesses sought to be protected are currently engaged in field operation to counter insurgency in the North East states of the country and are expected to give direct evidence of facts in relation to the trial and that refusal to grant the application will greatly undermine the prosecution case.
Nigerian Pilot recalled that the trial Judge, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed had declined prosecutions application for the use of facial mask by witnesses while giving evidence in court.
The DPP also asked the court for the protection of witnesses from the public during proceedings as well as hiding the identity and address of witnesses.
Opposing the application, Ahmed Raji , SAN, counsel to Ogwuche and that of other suspects held that wearing of facial mask by prosecution witnesses is not necessary.
Raji specifically argued that a lawyer should be able to see the face of a witness during cross examination; otherwise, it will amount to violation of the provision of the Evidence Act.
Justice Mohammed agreed with Raji that wearing facial mask and hiding the identity of the witnesses is not necessary and however held that only counsel in the matter, witnesses and journalists, who must be verified by the court will be allowed to attend proceedings in the matter.
The court adjourned till May 11th and 12th to hear the application by the prosecution and to commence trial of the accused persons, who were alleged to have conspired and committed an act of terrorism by detonating improvised explosive devices at Nyanya Motor Park, Abuja.
The alleged offences are punishable under sections 1 (2) (d) and 17 of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act of 2013.

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