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Monday, March 07, 2016

Kanu’s trial: Court agrees FG’s plea to shield witnesses

Kanu’s trial: Court agrees FG’s plea to shield witnesses

Justice James Tsoho of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday yielded to the plea by the Federal Government for its prosecution witnesses to testify behind a witness screen ‎against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.

Objection by Kanu’s lawyer, Mr Chuks Muoma (SAN), was overruled by the judge, who said that the request by the Federal Government for its witnessesto testify behind a witness screen did not amount to revisiting the court’s earlier ruling prohibiting the ‎prosecution witnesses from wearing masks.

The judge upheld the argument of the prosecution led by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Diri, that the screen is only meant to keep the witnesses from the members of the public present in court.

He pointed out that the use of the screen would not prevent the judge, the accused persons and lawyers to the parties from having visual contact with the witnesses while testifying.

A witness screen is an instrument mounted to hinder a witness from seeing the accused in the courtroom.

Also thrown out is the request by Muoma that the court should discharge and acquit its witnesses because of the prosecution’s failure to produce its witnesses to enable the trial to begin on Monday.

The judge in his verdict noted 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, is not in accordance with the circumstancesof the case.

He further explained that 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.

The court fixed Wednesday, March 9, 2016 for trial to commence.

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