No Secret Trial For Dasuki, Court Rules

 

Former NSA Sambo Dasuki
Former NSA Sambo Dasuki

A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja on Tuesday, has dismissed an application by the federal government to conduct the trial of former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, in secret.

Dasuki is being tried for unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering and the prosecution had asked the court to allow its witnesses wear face masks and bear pseudonyms in court to protect their identity and guarantee their safety.

Delivering ruling on the application, Justice Adeniyi Ademola said that there was no point for the witnesses to be called in the case to wear masks and bear pseudo names and addresses in order to ensure their safety and protection.

The trial judge noted that the federal government in the charges against the accused had listed the names and addresses of 11 witnesses to be called to testify against Dasuki, adding that since this information was already public knowledge, there was no reason to hide their identities.

The judge reasoned that the charges against Dasuki were not terrorism related and that there was no information that the life of any of the witnesses billed to be called would being threatened by anybody of group.

Justice Ademola, while acknowledging that the court can apply its discretion to protect witnesses in a criminal matter, stated that such discretions must be judicially and judiciously used only in cases where threat to life has been established by the prosecution.

In the Dasuki case, the judge held, the federal government failed to establish any threat against the witnesses

Earlier, Justice Ademola had ordered the government and the Department of States Security Service, DSS, to allow Dasuki access to his counsel and family members in the interest of justice and the rule of law.

The judge issued the order following complains by counsel to the accused, Ahmed Raji, SAN, that his client had been denied access to his family and lawyer since December, 2015.

The judge 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.

Justice Ademola also ordered that the meeting between the accused and his lawyers and family members should take place at the interview room of DSS Headquarters and the Federal High Court premises in Abuja unhindered.

By the order, Dasuki would be able to meet with four lawyers and two members of his family on the dates and venue set by the court.

The matter has been adjourned till May 18-19, 2016.

 

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