Court approves protection of witnesses in Dasuki’s trial

An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday allowed the protection of witnesses in the ongoing trial of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki.

Mr. Dasuki is tried for allegedly being in possession of firearms as well as for corrupt offences, brought against him by the federal government.

The judge, Ahmed Mohammed, granted the application after hearing the arguments of counsel. A similar request had earlier been denied by Justice Adeniyi Ademola in Febuary 2016.

Delivering the ruling, Mr. Mohammed said the witnesses will testify in court, behind a screen protecting them from the public.

However, the witnesses will not be shielded from the judge or members of both parties involved in the matter.

Mr. Mohammed said his decision to allow the protection of witnesses was premised on Section 232(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which allows the use of such screens for prosecution witnesses in cases involving economic and financial crimes.

“Section 232(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act permits the use of a screen in a charge of economic and financial crimes; and money laundering is part of the charges instituted against the defendant,” the judge said.

Mr. Mohammed therefore dismissed the arguments made by counsel representing Mr. Dasuki, Ahmed Raji who contended that the application for protection of witnesses was an abuse of court process.

Mr. Raji had told the court to disregard the request by the prosecution in the grounds that they were based on speculations and aimed at blackmailing his client.

The prosecution had insisted that as a former NSA, Mr. Dasuki had many loyalists still within the military who could harm the witnesses.

After the ruling on Thursday, Mr. Mohammed adjourned the case till September 20.

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