16 June 2017

Nigeria: Dasuki Fails to Stop Shielding of Witnesses

A Federal High Court in Abuja has overruled the objection by former National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Col. Sambo Dasuki challenging the shielding of witnesses in his trial.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed in a ruling yesterday, held that the application by the prosecution to shield the identities of the witnesses was not an abuse of court process, as the present application is different from the earlier one, which requested the masking of witnesses.

The judge however ordered that the witnesses will not be shielded from the defendant and defence lawyers, adding that accredited members of the press can access the court during the trial.

He said Section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 permitted the use of screen to shield witnesses on economic crimes as in this case.

The Federal Government's counsel, Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN) had argued that being a crown prince in Sokoto, a retired military officer and former NSA, Dasuki has a lot of followers, who may cause harm to the witnesses, if their identities were not shielded from the public.

He had submitted that Dasuki as the NSA imported caches of arms, many of which have not been recovered. He added that some of the arms are still in the hands of persons, who are sympathetic to Dasuki.

But Dasuki's counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN) had asked the court to refuse the application for being an abuse of court process and a violation of his right to fair and open hearing.

Dasuki was in December 2015 arraigned on a five counts charge of illegal possession of firearms and money laundering. He is also facing trial for alleged diversion of $2.1 billion arms funds in other courts.

The case has been adjourned to September 20 and 21 for hearing.

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