Why Dasuki remains adamant against secret prosecution

By Amako Nneji October 26, 2015 17:04

Why Dasuki remains adamant against secret prosecution

The immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki has rejected the move by the Buhari-led Federal government to try him secretly adding that in a democratic era, the entrenchment of the rule of law will be the greatest casualty, if trial of that nature was made in secret.

The prosecution counsel M.S. Labaran had requested that the trial be conducted in secret by providing special cover for witnesses from using public routes, use of private witness room, use of facial masks, and also that only accredited members of the press be allowed to cover the trial.

See: REVEALED: Dasuki in secret trial with masked witnesses

Former national security adviser Col.Sambo Dasuki, his counsel Ahmed Raji, former governor of Sokoto state Alhaji Attahiru Baffarawa at the Federal High Court Abuja

Former national security adviser Col.Sambo Dasuki, his counsel Ahmed Raji, former governor of Sokoto state Alhaji Attahiru Baffarawa at the Federal High Court Abuja

In a counter motion, one of the counsels to Dasuki and former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Joseph Daudu objected to the request for special cover for prosecution witnesses in the case on the ground that the case was harmless within a democratic setting that did not warrant secret trial.

On September 1 this year, prosecution counsel, Mohammed Diri, had told the court that Dasuki was charged with the unlawful possession of firearms, which Dasuki pleaded not guilty.

Justice Ademola then granted Mr. Dasuki bail on self-recognition but ordered that his passport and other travel documents be deposited with the deputy court registrar while the case was adjourned to October 26 and 27 for the hearing.

While speaking Daudu said that even during military rule, trial of that nature was held openly.

    “In a criminal trial, the ability of defence counsel to confront the prosecution witness is pivotal,” he told the court, adding that “if the defence counsel is not allowed to have a direct confrontation with the prosecution witnesses and interrogate the witness as per his background and the like, it will weaken the strength of the defence.”

    “We consider the trial as harmless to the witnesses. If you make the witnesses anonymous then we may lack the ability to conduct background checks. Even in trial of treasonable felony and coup de’tat, the witnesses are not hidden and we are in a democracy.

    “Also, there has not been cases in this court where witnesses are being molested and in this cases it will be a case of injustice if the defence counsel and witnesses are known and the prosecution witnesses who are armed and can protect themselves are shielded. I think all the motions and counter-affidavit has been ex-changed and this is purely an academic exercise.”

Daudu also asked the court to release the travel documents of the accused to him so that he would be able to travel abroad for medical check-up.

According to him, Dasuki was billed to travel a day before his arrest for medical treatment but the arrest and trial had so far prevented him from doing so.

Labaran, who appeared for the prosecution, therefore, requested for adjournment to enable him react to the motion for release of Dasuki’s travel documents.

Justice Ademola then adjourned the case to Wednesday, October 28, 2015 for ruling on prosecution’s request for secret trial and Dasuki’s request for his travel documents to be released.