The Nigerian government has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to conduct a secret trial to cross-examine witnesses in the ongoing case of alleged treasonable felony and other charges against leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
Mr. Kanu and two others, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, are facing charges of alleged treason, maintaining unlawful society, possession of firearms, among others.
Counsel to the federal government, who is also the Director of Prosecution in the office of the Attorney General, Mohammed Diri, asked the court at the opening of session to permit the conduct of secret trial for the protection of witnesses.
But counsel to the first defendant, Chuks Muoma, opposed the application for secret trial, saying military personnel were already providing adequate security during the trial.
He however prayed the court to order the return of $2,200; N87,000 and two international passports collected from Mr. Kanu upon his arrest.
Mr. Muoma said the prosecution, despite collecting the said amount and items, had deliberately avoided stating anything regarding them in its affidavit.
He prayed the court to order the return of the item, stressing that the allegations against his client were yet to be proven in court.
Mr. Diri however objected, stating that the defendants had the right, as stipulated in Section 10 (7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, to ask for their items, from the prosecution.
In his response, Mr. Mouma said it is only the court that can grant the relief sought by his client.
The trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, ruled that the submission of the prosecution counsel that the application for release of his client’s items should be made to the office of the AGF was wrong.
Mr. Tsoho noted that since the defendants had been brought before the court of law, the manner of making the application for retrieval of items was duly made.
He however ruled that since evidences were yet to be tendered before the court on the matter, it would be improper to assume that the items were not important to the prosecution.
“I hold a humble view that just as the prosecution is not to be confined to the number of witnesses it can bring before a court, its number of evidences cannot also be limited,” said Mr. Tsoho.
The matter was adjourned to February 19 for ruling on the application for secret trial.
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