The Federal Government for the second time yesterday sought protection of witnesses that would be testifying against the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki.
Dasuki is facing trial for alleged unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering brought against him by the Department of State Security Service (DSS).
The fresh application dated January 23 and filed on January 24 by the prosecution counsel, Chief Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), is praying the Federal High Court, Abuja, to shield names and addresses of witnesses from public knowledge.
But in a strong opposition to the fresh request, Dasuki, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN), asked the court to dismiss government’s application on the ground that it lacked merit and constituted a gross abuse of court process.
The Ex-NSA in a counter-affidavit filed by Raji, further argued that there was no justification for the Federal Government to have brought the motion for secret trial a second time, having lost in the first motion.
The defendant insisted that the Federal Government had on its own volition, placed the charges against Dasuki on the Internet, where the names, addresses and positions of the witnesses were conspicuously put at the disposal of the general public.
The defendant insisted that when the first application was argued by the then Director, Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Mr. Mohamed Diri, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the same court, in a landmark ruling, dismissed the request on the ground that the witnesses were already known by the public, having published their names on the Internet.
He said what the prosecution ought to do if not satisfied with the decision of Justice Ademola, was to have gone to the Court of Appeal to ventilate its anger.
The defendant, who attached a copy of the earlier court ruling to the application therefore urged the trial Judge, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, not to entertain the fresh motion for a secret trial because it would violate his right to fair trial and will run contrary to the principle of rule of law and natural justice.
When the motion came up yesterday, Opeseyi could not move the motion on the ground that the defence had just served him a voluminous counter-affidavit, objecting the motion.
Noting however that so many fundamental issues were raised in the counter-affidavit and that plethora of authorities were also cited in the counter affidavit, the prosecution counsel consequently applied for an adjournment to enable him study the counter-affidavit and respond to it appropriately.
The defence did not object to the request for the adjournment but clarified that the fresh motion for secret trial was served on the defendant last Thursday, hence, the counter-affidavit prepared over the weekend was served yesterday within the time allowed by law.
Justice Mohammed therefore fixed hearing of the motion for March 1.