A Federal High Court in Abuja will today hear an application by the Federal Government seeking the modification of its earlier order in the case against the Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche and six others, the alleged masterminds behind the April 14, 2014 bomb blasts which claimed over 75 persons at Nyanya Motor Park, Abuja.
At the last hearing of the case, 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 March 18, 2014.
The DPP, in the motion brought pursuant to section 6 (6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) 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 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.
In a two-page affidavit in support of the application, the DPP averred that the prosecution witnesses will be more comfortable if the court provides a protective shield as a measure of protecting their witnesses’ identity while giving evidence.
The affidavit stated that the protective screen to be provided will allay 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 operations 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’s case.
Nigerian Pilot recalls 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.
While opposing the application, Ahmed Raji, SAN, counsel to Ogwuche and the other accused held that wearing of l mask by prosecution witnesses was not necessary.
He 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 mask and hiding the identities of the witnesses were not necessary. He 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 today and tomorrow 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, IEDs at Nyanya Motor Park, Abuja on the said date.

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