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Court fixes date for ruling on Boko Haram suspects

15 May 2014, 17:23

Abuja - An Abuja Federal High Court on Wednesday fixed June 4 for ruling in an application filed by the Federal Government seeking to modify the trial of three Boko Haram suspects.

The accused, Mohammed Yunus, Salami Abdullahi and Musa Umar, were arraigned on an eight-count charge of terrorism.

The prosecutor, N.B. Jones-Nebo, who said that the accused held various meetings to carry out terrorist activities in various parts of the country, added that they were arrested by security operatives.

She said that the accused were also found to be in possession of dangerous weapons in some locations in Kogi with the aim of carrying out Boko Haram's terrorist agenda.

The trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolwole, had on April 3 in his ruling, ordered for a partial secret trial for the accused, following government’s application for such.

Kolawole said he would not shut down the entire court room, but make adequate provisions for the security of the citizens that would give evidence.

Jones-Nebo on May 6 brought another application, seeking for the modification of the ruling, to further protect the identity of her witnesses.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the government asked the court to vacate the earlier order for a complete protection of the identities of the witnesses.

"It is the conviction of the prosecution that it will be neater and better if our order is granted,’’ Jones-Nebo said.

 Hassan Liman (SAN), counsel to the first accused (Yunus), objected to the application.

"The court has no power under section 6 sub-section 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, to set aside its earlier decision after final arguments in the matter had been taken.

"The court would operate serious injustice to the accused if the application for a total protection of the witnesses by the prosecution is granted,’’ he said.

Liman further submitted that it was an abuse of court process by inviting the court to re-open a matter which only a superior court had power to do.

James Ocholi (SAN) and Abdul Mohammed, counsel to the second and third accused respectively, aligned with Liman’s submission and opposed the application.

"This is a ploy by the prosecution to conceal the identities of its agents with which it intends to secure conviction at all cost against the accused,’’ Ocholi said.

Justice Kolawole adjourned the case for ruling on the application after listening to the arguments of the counsel.

 - NAN

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