NAN: The federal government has again applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja for protection of witnesses that will testify against the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.
Dasuki is facing charges of unlawful possession of fire-arms and money laundering.
The fresh application was brought to court by Chief Oladipo Okpeseyi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), recently engaged by the government to lead the prosecution.
The application filed on January 24 is insisting that the witnesses should be given protection by the court by not allowing their names and addresses 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 because it lacked merit and was an abuse of court process.
In a counter affidavit filed on behalf of the Ex-NSA by his lead counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji, argued that there was no justification for government to have brought the motion for secret trial for the second time having lost in the first motion.
The defendant insisted that government had on its own volition placed the charges against him in the internet where the names, addresses and positions of the witnesses were conspicuously put at the disposal of the general public.
Dasuki maintained that when the first application 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.
It was dismissed because the witnesses were already known by the public having given their names through the internet.
He further said that bringing the same motion to the same court constituted a gross abuse of court process and that what the prosecution ought to do if not satisfied with the decision of Justice Ademola, was to have gone to court of Appeal to ventilate its anger.
Dasuki who attached a copy of the earlier court ruling on the application urged the trial judge, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, not to allow the fresh motion for secret trial to be entertained.
When the motion came up today, Opeseyi could not move the motion on the ground that the defence had just served him a voluminous counter affidavit objecting to the motion.
The prosecution counsel told the court that so many fundamental issues were raised in the counter affidavit and that plethora of authorities were also cited in the counter affidavit.
He therefore applied for an adjournment to enable him study the counter affidavit and respond to it appropriately.
Justice Mohammed therefore fixed hearing of the motion for March 1.
The Directorate of State Services had in 2015 slammed a two-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 disallowed 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.