Court grants DSS permission to protect witnesses
Kanu said his team will challenge today’s court ruling which permitted the DSS to make use of masked witnesses. A Federal High Court has granted an application by the Department of State Services (DSS) to protect its witnesses. The judge over the matter, John Tsoho, in his ruling said that the DSS application is not different from his previous order. He dismissed the defense counsel’s argument that Section 351 subsection 1 of the Administrative Criminal Justice Act that complainant must be ascertained affects this matter before the court. He said the complainant in this matter is the Attorney General of the Federation, who is the chief legal prosecutor of the state represented by the Director of Public Prosecution, Mohammed Dir and his team. Tsoho said that he upholds the argument that Section 351 subsection 1 of the Administrative Criminal Justice Act. He said the previous court order is not different from the application made by the DSS.
While discharging the prayer of the defendants to discharge the charges before the court and restrict the complainant to re-arresting the defendants, Tsoho said his order of February 19, included that the witnesses are shielded in a manner that they can be seen by the counsels. He added that the witnesses are also allowed to use private paths within the court premises that are different from the public paths. He said the DSS application does not amount to opening an already settled matter. The judge further explained that the witnesses will not be masked but will be screened in such a way that the counsels will be able to see the witnesses. Tsoho ruled that the matter be adjourned to Wednesday, March 9, as screens not facial masks will be used to protect the witnesses during examination and cross-examination. The prosecution counsel, Mohammed Diri also told the court that the DSS intends to examine all its witnesses on the same day.
He had earlier urged the court to vary its order that the identities of its witnesses be protected from the public. Diri told the court that the inability of the DSS to bring the witnesses for the commencement of trial was because the witnesses were scared of their lives. Meanwhile, Nnamdi Kanu has said that he would challenge the order of the Federal High Court Abuja to allowed witnesses to be protected in his trial. Speaking after a court ruling in Abuja, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, one of the counsels to Kanu said his team will challenge today’s court ruling. “We are going to challenge the decision of the court in a higher court,” Ejiofor said. Kanu was arrested on October 14, 2015, by operatives of the DSS upon his arrival into Nigeria from the United Kingdom. He is facing charges bordering on felony, illegal possession of firearms and assisting in the management of an unlawful society alongside two others.