An Abuja Federal High Court on Monday ordered that the trial of Aminu Ogwuche, the alleged mastermind of the April, 2014 bus station bombings in Nyanya, an Abuja suburb, be conducted partially in secret.
It would be recalled that the accused, Ogwuche, Ahmed Abubakar, Mohammed Ishaq, Ya’u Saidu, Anas Isa, Adamu Yusuf and Nasir Abubakar are facing terrorism charges over the bombings last year which claimed at least 75 lives.
The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, while delivering ruling on an application by the prosecution counsel, Mr Mohammed Diri, ordered that prosecution witnesses be completely shielded from public view.
Diri had in the said application prayed the court that the identity of prosecution witnesses be shielded with tinted screen to protect their identity.
Justice Mohammed ordered the use of tinted screens to shield the prosecution witnesses to protect them from public view, allowing only the lead counsel to the accused access to view the facial identities of the prosecution witnesses.
He also held that the prosecution witnesses be granted protected access to the court room through a non-public route.
At Monday’s resumed trial, a representative of the prosecution counsel, Mr Moshood Ogunsina, moved a motion seeking to modify the order of the court made on March 18, 2015.
However, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), counsel to Ogwuche and Ahmed Abubakar, with five other counsel to the co-accused, had opposed the motion and urged the court not to grant it.
The defence counsel faulted the motion on the grounds that it did not meet the requirements of Section 115 of the Evidence Act 2010.
Raji argued that, part of the prosecution’s motion seeking to limit counsel appearance for the accused persons to only the lead counsel, was an unwarranted infringement to the constitutional rights of the accused.
He also said that granting such a motion would infringe on the rights of the accused to counsel of their choice.
According to Raji, the prosecution’s decision to bring the motion under Civil Procedure Rules rendered it incompetent arguing that criminal trials are not regulated by Civil Procedure Rules.
The judge adjourned the case until Tuesday, May 12, for continuation of the trial.