Justice James Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja has rejected the request by the federal government, to shield its witnesses in the course of the trial.
The Department of State Security [DSS] prosecution team had applied to the court to allow its witnesses to wear masks during the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra [IPOB].
The judge said the prosecution did not furnish the court with enough evidence to show that, it’s witnesses were in danger, other than a mere mention by the prosecutor that his witnesses are scared for their lives.
Justice Tsoho said he agreed with the Counsel to the accused persons that the demeanour of a witness is important in helping the court decide if he is a witness of truth or otherwise.
He also said that the state has all of the resources to ensure that the witnesses in the suit are protected.
The judge however says his order as granted at the last sitting allowing lawyers, journalists and close relatives of the accused persons, still remains.
The federal government had on Friday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to protect its witnesses from the public during the trial of the self-proclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mister Nnamdi Kanu.
Counsel to the government, Mr David Kaswe told the court that the application is pursuant to the fact that the prosecution witnesses reside in the geographical entity of the accused persons and they have said they will not be willing to testify unless they are assured of their security.
He added that most of the witnesses categorically informed his team that unless they can be guaranteed some form of protection by the court, they will not testify.
Mr Kaswe in persuading the court, further told Justice Tsoho that the case of the prosecution will greatly frustrate the outcome, since their witnesses are not protected, they have refused to attend the proceedings to testify.
Objecting to the application, Counsel to the accused persons, Chief Chuks Muoma urged the court to discountenance the application as it lacks merit.
According to him all of the cases relied upon by the prosecution are terrorism related and have no relations at all with the case in point.
He also says that the prosecution cannot accuse his clients in public and seek to try them in secret.
This he says will take away the justice of the case.
The trial has been adjourned to March 7, 2016
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