Legal Nigeria

Court to shield prosecution witnesses in trial of ex-Boko Haram leaders

Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja Tuesday granted the request by the prosecution for the shielding of its witnesses’ identity in the trial of some ex-Boko Haram leaders.Justice Tsoho directed that prosecution witnesses should be protected by being allowed to give evidence behind a screen to be provided by the court.The judge also directed that the identity of the prosecution witnesses would also be shielded from members of the public by addressing witnesses in pseudonyms in the course of the trial.The judge’s directives were sequel to an application moved Tuesday by prosecution lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran.The defendants, including an alleged leader of a splinter group of Boko Haram, Mohammed Usman (aka Khalid Albarnawi), his “second wife”, Halima Haliru, and five others were arraigned on March 14 on an 11-count charge, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/36/2017.

Other defendants are Mohammed Saleh, Umar Bello (aka Abu Azzan); Mohammed Salisu (Datti), Yakubu Nuhu (aka Bello Maishayi) and Usman Abubakar (Mugiratu).The defendants were among others; charge with terrorism, hostage taking and murder of a total of nine expatriates, offences they allegedly committed between 2011 and 2013.Besides Haliru, the other defendants are said to be members of   Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (a.k.a Ansaru), a group described by the prosecution as a breakaway from Boko Haram.Haliru is mentioned in just count 11 in which he was accused of having “information which you know to be of material assistance in preventing members of Boko Haram splinter group known as Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan a.k.a ANSARU from carrying out acts of terrorism but failed to disclose it to the relevant security agencies you thereby committed an offence punishable under S.8 (1) (a) of Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended in 2013.Justice Tsoho has adjourned to April 25, for ruling on another application by the prosecution for a variation the court’s earlier order, directing that the defendants be remanded in prison after their arraignment on March 14 as against the prosecution’s preference for DSS custody.Source : The Nation