The federal government has applied to a federal high court in Abuja for a secret trial of former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (rtd) in the criminal charges of unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering preferred against him.
Government also yesterday filed fresh charges against the ex-NSA which now include alleged retention of funds which formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act contrary to section 15 (2) (d) of Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
Dasuki who was escorted to the court by three former civilian governors and a retinue of former ministers and top government functionaries pleaded not guilty to the fresh five – count charges as against the earlier one count charge.
He was allowed bail in the previous term by Justice Ademola Adeniyi.
However, in a motion on notice argued by the prosecution counsel Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, the federal government applied to the court to grant secret trial of the ex-security chief for security of its witnesses billed to testify against the accused.
The application was brought to the court pursuant to section 36(4) of the 1999 constitution and section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
Among others, the prosecution sought order to direct that the names and address of all its witnesses should not be disclosed in any record or report of proceedings that may be accessible to the public and that the witnesses be permitted to use pseudo name in the course of proceedings; to grant to its witnesses access to a non-public route to and from the court premises and court rooms; as well as to allow them use private witnesses room.
Apart from lawyers and accredited newsmen, the prosecution asked the court not to allow any member of the public to witness the trial and that the witnesses be permitted to wear facial masks while giving evidence against the ex-NSA.
Labaran who argued the motion submitted that the trial will suffer setback because the witnesses will not testify without secret trial for fear of reprisal from undisclosed places.
However, counsel to the accused Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, asked the court to dismiss the application for lacking merit and for being frivolous.
He told Justice Ademola that the names of the witnesses were already in the public domain at the instance of the prosecution adding that the application was a mere academic exercise that should not be granted by the court.
Justice Ademola will give ruling on the application on Wednesday.
The fresh charges are that the accused was on July 17, 2015 at his house, No. 13, John Khadiya Street, Asokoro, Abuja found in possession of various range of firearms without requisite licence an offence punishable under section 27 (1)(a) of the Firearms Act Cap F28 LFN 2004.
He was also accused of retaining $40,000, N5million and another $20,000 in the same house and same date contrary to section 15 (2)(d) of Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
Besides, the accused was said to have on July 16, 2015 at his residence at Sultan Abubakar Road and Sabon Birni Road, Sokoto retained another $150,000 and N37.6m being part of proceedings of unlawful act contrary to Section 15 (3) of the Money Laundering Act 2011.
Meanwhile, the accused person through his counsel has filed an application for temporary release of his travelling documents from the court to enable him travel abroad for medical attention.
The medical check-up was said to have been over-due since July but that he could not travel due to seizure of his passport.
The application will be argued next Wednesday.