Update: IPOD Leader Trial: Witnesses to Testify Behind Screen

Justice James Tsoho of an Abuja Federal High Court has finally bought the argument of the prosecution in a case of treasonable felony against Director General of Radio Biafra and leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to allow witnesses testify in mask
The Jugde, Monday, upheld the submisstion of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mohammed Diri and ordered the use of screens to shield witnesses who will testify against Kanu in the trial.
In what looked like a u-turn from February 19 ruling in which Justice Tsoho went against masking of the witnesses, Monday, the Judge also ordered the use non-public routes and rest rooms by the witnesses.
The Judge dismissed the objection by Kanu’s lawyer, Chuks Muoma (SAN), ruling that the request by the Federal Government for its witnesses to testify behind a witness screen did not amount to revisiting the court’s earlier ruling prohibiting the ‎prosecution witnesses from wearing masks.
He upheld the argument of the prosecution led by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Diri, that the screen would only shield the witnesses from the members of the public present in court.
He said the use of the screen would not prevent the judge, the accused persons and lawyers to the parties to see the witnesses while testifying.
A witness screen is a device positioned to shield a witness from seeing the accused in the courtroom.
The court also dismissed the request by Muoma that the court should discharge and acquit its witnesses because the prosecution failed to produce its witnesses to enable the trial to commence on Monday.
The Judge ruled that ‎the provision of section 351(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act‎ 2015 relied on by the defence to ask for the quashing of the charges, did not apply to the circumstances of the case.
According to the judge, the court can only dismiss the charges against an accused person who is present in court when the complainant in the case is not represented in court.
Prosecution witnesses had ealier refused to appear before the Court to testify against Kanu.
Diri had earlier told the court that the witnesses, comprising operatives of DSS and civilians, would not appear in court unless the court makes an order shielding them from the public.
The case has been adjourned to March 9 for hearing.
Also, when the case came up for hearing earlier, the Department of State Service (DSS), told the Court, that it has uncovered plot by some pro-Biafra agitators, to invade the court and forcefully free the detained leader of IPOB.

Author: News Editor

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