The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Wednesday granted an application by the federal government to protect witnesses lined up in the prosecution of Tukur Mamu, who is being tried over his alleged relationship with terrorists involved in the 2022 attack on a Kaduna-bound train.
Justice Inyang Ekwo granted the application following an ex-parte motion moved by D.E. Kaswe, counsel for the Office of the Attorney-General for the Federation(AGF), to the effect.
Moving the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/96/2023, Mr Kaswe said the application, dated May 11, was filed on June 15.
He said the motion was brought pursuant to sections 36(4), (A), (B) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, including section 73 (1), (2) (C) and (4) of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.
In the motion, the federal government prayed for four orders.
These include “An order of this honourable court excluding persons other than parties and their legal representatives at the hearing of the above-named charge except members of the accredited press.
“An order of this honourable court vacating the courtroom whenever the prosecution witnesses are coming to testify.
“An order of this honourable court shielding the physical identity of the prosecution witnesses by wearing facial masks and or the use of screen whenever prosecution witnesses are testifying.
“An order of this honourable court directing the use of pseudo names by prosecution witnesses and deleting the real names and addresses of prosecution witnesses throughout the proceedings of this case.”
Justice Ekwo granted the motion as prayed.
Earlier, when the matter was called, Mr Mamu, who was the sole defendant in the charge, was not in court.
Mr Kaswe then told the court that Mr Mamu was still on his way with the security operatives.
“I urge this honourable court to stand down this matter as they are still on their way coming,” he prayed.
“Do you think this is a stand-down court? That application is refused,” the judge said.
At this point, Mr Kaswe informed the court that the motion ex-parte was already filed and sought permission to take the motion.
But Mr Mamu’s lawyer, Abdul Mohammed, SAN, opposed the application, describing it as an attempt to stall the day’s proceedings already scheduled for trial commencement.
Mr Mohammed argued that in the last adjourned date, the prosecution was given three days, but they failed to utilise it.
Justice Ekwo consequently adjourned the matter until July 21 for trial commencement.
Mr Mamu was, on March 21, arraigned by the office of the attorney-general of the federation on 10 counts bordering on terrorism financing, especially on the recent Abuja-Kaduna train attack.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr Mamu was arrested on September 6, 2022, on his way to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj and was detained at Cairo International Airport before being repatriated to Nigeria.
In the charges, the federal government accused him of aiding and abetting Boko Haram terrorism attacks against innocent Nigerians.
He was accused of collecting sums of money in various currencies on behalf of Boko Haram terrorists from the families of the train attack.
Mr Mamu was said to have collected $420,000 from families of the attack and another N21 million from other families of the train attack.
He is also accused of concealing the terrorism funds in his Kaduna residence in violation of provisions of the Terrorism Prevention, Prohibition Act.