Federal High Court Abuja, in preparation for the trial of the Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has provided a barricade to ensure that the prosecuting witnesses are shielded from public view.
At the last sitting on Monday, March 7th, the trial Judge, Justice James Tsoho had granted the application by the Department of State Services (DSS), that its witnesses testify behind a witness screen for security reasons, dismissing the objection of the defendant.
Kanu’s lawyer, Chuks Muoma, had earlier raised an objection that the request by the Federal Government for its witnesses to testify behind a witness screen meant revisiting the earlier ruling of the court.
Justice Tsoho however while overruling Mouma’s objection said that his new order did not amount to revisiting his earlier ruling prohibiting the prosecution witnesses from wearing masks.
Upholding the argument of the prosecution led by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Diri, that the screen is only meant to keep the witnesses away from the members of the public present in court, Tsoho pointed out that using the screen would not in any way, prevent the judge, the accused persons and lawyers to the parties from having visual contact with the witnesses while testifying.
The defence lawyer, Muoma, SAN, however, vowed to challenge the revised order for the identities of the witnesses to be protected.
The court also dismissed the request by Kanu’s counsel, praying the court to discharge and acquit its witnesses because the prosecution failed to produce its witnesses in court Monday, thereby causing a delay in the commencement of the trial.
The judge ruled that the provision of section 351(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 depended on by the defence to demand for the dismissal of the charges, did not apply to the circumstances of the case.
Kanu, alongside two others, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi are standing trial on a six-count charge of treason.