Sambo Dasuki
Sambo Dasuki

Federal Government yesterday lost its bid at the Federal High Court, Abuja, to conduct secret trial on former National Security Adviser, NSA, Colonel 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 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 the former NSA, Justice Adeniyi Ademola held that the federal government had in the charge against Dasuki listed the names and addresses of 11 witnesses to be called to testify against him and made same available to the general public and as such, there was no basis for any hide and seek game in Dasuki’s 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 public except the lawyers involved in the trial and accredited journalists.
Justice Ademola said that there was no basis to grant the request of government to make the witnesses wear special mask, bear pseudo names and addresses because the charges were not on terrorism 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 had discretion to look into such issues of protection of witnesses in a criminal matter, but that such discretions must be judicially and judiciously used only in cases where threat to life had been established by the prosecution.
In the instance case, Justice Ademola said that government failed to establish any fact that lives of its witnesses were 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 agents, the Department of States Services, 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 complaints 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, 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.
The judge also granted the defendant access to four lawyers and two members of his family on the dates and venues chosen by the court.

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