WHY FG Wants Boko Haram Witnesses To Wear Facial Masks
An Abuja Federal High Court has been directed by the Federal Government to allow witnesses in the trial of suspected Boko Haram members to wear facial masks.
The application was filed on Tuesday by prosecution counsel, Mrs. N.B Jones Nebo, a Chief State Counsel in the Ministry of Justice before the court presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole.
She said the application became imperative as witnesses refused to testify in open court during the trial of suspected Boko Haram members in Kogi State.
According to the prosecutor, the accused which comprised a university lecturer, Dr. Nazeef Yunus, Alhaji Abdulahi Salami as well as Umar Musa are standing trial for eight count charge of terrorism.
It would be recalled that at a hearing on April 3, a prosecution witness refused to testify against the alleged sect members after the court rejected an application brought by the Federal Government to restrict members of the public from the courtroom during the trial.
Following the Federal Government initiated witness-protection programme, witnesses involved in recent prosecutions of suspected insurgent members testified wearing facial masks, in order to keep their identities discreet.
Members of the public, apart from accredited journalists, were also barred from the courtrooms during hearing.
Counsel to the accused persons, however, opposed an application in which the Federal Government sought to have their trial conducted in secret.
Justice Kolawole upheld the submission of the defence counsel, but ordered that the identity of witnesses and their addresses should not be disclosed.
The witness, who was supposed to testify refused to without a mask as the ruling made by Justice Kolawole did not provide for any mask.
Responding, Justice Kolawole advised the prosecutor to either appeal the ruling, or bring an application for a mask.
Defence counsel, however, opposed the Federal Government’s bid to provide masks for its witnesses.
Justice Kolawole adjourned the case to May 14 for hearing on the application for mask, and the defence counsel’s objections.
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