The Federal Government on Tuesday requested a secret trial for Senator Representing Borno South, Mohammed Ali Ndume, who is facing terrorism related charges before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The request by the government, which seeks to preclude members of the public from witnessing court proceedings, is coming midway into the trial, which began last year.
Recall that Sen. Ndume was arraigned before Justice Kolawole on December 12, 2013 on a four-count charge by the Department of State Services (DSS) after a Boko Haram kingpin was arrested in his house in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The DSS accused him of funding the insurgent group and failing to provide information about its operations to security agencies.
On Tuesday, the prosecution lawyer, E.A. Orji, while moving a motion dated September 23, 2014 prayed the court to protect the identity of the remaining witnesses scheduled to testify in the matter.
He said the intended secret trial would serve as a protective measure for witnesses in the case, whose security could be compromised should their identities be made public.
“We urge the court to exclude members of the public from the trial. We also want the court to protect the identities of the remaining witnesses that will give evidence in this case.
“The fundamental rights of the accused have not been violated because his counsel is represented and has not in any way been excluded from the matter. It is in the interest of national security and public safety that the motion should be granted”, Orji said.
Lawyer to the accused, I. Amaza, argued that the prosecution’s request would violate his client’s right to fair hearing, therefore, he urged the court to refuse the prosecution’s prayer and proceed with the trial.
After listening to both arguments, Justice Kolawole adjourned to October 24 for ruling.