For the second time, the Nigerian Federal Government has applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja for protection of witnesses who will testify against the former National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki.
Dasuki is being tried for unlawful possession of fire-arms and money laundering. He is said to have mismanaged, diverted and stolen money meant to fight Boko Haram when Goodluck Jonathan was in power. The Federal Government put the figure at $2.1 billion.
The Federal Government’s newest application was brought to court by Chief Oladipo Okpeseyi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who was recently engaged to lead the prosecution.
The motion, dated January 23, was filed January 24. It pleaded with the court to grant witnesses protection. It said the court should not allow the names and addresses of witnesses to be made public in the course of the trial.
But in a strong opposition to the fresh request, Dasuki asked the court to dismiss the government’s motion on the ground that it lacks merit and constituted a gross abuse of court process.
The Ex-NSA in a counter affidavit filed by his lead counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji, argued that there was no justification for the Federal Government to have brought the motion for secret trial for the second time having lost in the first motion.
The defendant insisted that the Federal Government had on its own volition placed the charges against him on the internet where the names, addresses and positions of the witnesses were put at the disposal of the general public.
Besides, Dasuki maintained that when the first application was argued by the then Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Mr. Mohamed Diri, Justice Adeniyi Adenola of the same court in a landmark ruling dismissed the request on the ground that the witnesses are already known to the public, after their names were released on the Internet. Justice Mohammed has adjourned the case to March 1.
The Federal Government through the Department of the State Security Service had in 2015 slammed a 2-count charge of unlawful possession of fire-arms and money laundering against Dasuki.
But the trial suffered a setback last year when Justice Ademola withdrew from further conducting the trial following his arrest by the DSS on allegations of corruption related matters.
The withdrawal of justice Ademola from the trial prompted the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Justice Ibrahim Auta to transfer the case file to the present judge
The Ex-NSA who pleaded not guilty to the charges was in 2015 admitted to bail by justice Ademola but was dis-allowed by the DSS from enjoying the bail by re-arresting him and keeping him in the custody since December 2015. Other courts have also granted bails to Dasuki include Ecowas Court’s order for his release but he is still being kept in detention.