Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Federal Government has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), is yet to account for a large cache of sophisticated arms he imported while in office.
The government said it feared that the missing arms were in the hands of some unidentified persons that were sympathetic towards the ex-NSA’s cause.
It stated this in an application filed by its lawyer, Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), seeking an order permitting it to shield the identities of its prosecution witnesses in Dasuki’s ongoing trial before the court.
The Federal Government is prosecuting Dasuki before the court on four counts of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.
The government said in its application filed on June 3, 2016 that although it had recovered some of the arms and ammunitions, including cash in foreign currencies in Dasuki’s Abuja home, security operatives were yet to locate a large volume of others.
The prosecution said it filed the application because Dasuki was a man of huge influence across the country, and that the safety of witnesses it intended to call would be threatened if their identities were not shielded.
The application read in part, “The defendant (Dasuki), while serving as the NSA, imported into the country a large cache of highly sophisticated arms and ammunition, most of which have not been accounted for.
“Upon the search of the defendant’s residence, some of these arms and ammunition were recovered, while the whereabouts of others is not known till date.
“A huge volume of these highly sophisticated arms and ammunition is feared to be in the possession of persons, who are sympathetic to the defendant.
“The defendant was the immediate past National Security Adviser, a retired senior military officer and crowned prince of Sokoto Caliphate, who undoubtedly, commands large followership throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria and, who may be aggrieved by this trial.
“The fears of highly probable attack on them (the witnesses) expressed above, has completely eroded the confidence of the prosecution witnesses to testify in this case. The grounds mentioned above constitute special circumstances, hence this application.”
The prosecution sought among other prayers, an order allowing prosecution witnesses in the case to enjoy “witness protection by giving evidence behind screen to be provided by the court”.
It also sought, “An order directing that the identities of all prosecution witnesses be not disclosed in any record or report of proceedings, which are accessible to the public.
“An order permitting all prosecution witnesses to be addressed with pseudonyms in the course of proceedings.”
Okpeseyi informed the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the pending application during the Wednesday’s proceedings.
Dasuki’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), indicated his intention to oppose the application.
He said he intended to file a counter-affidavit against the application which he described as “unfounded”.
The prosecution had earlier on May 18, called its first prosecution witness, Samuel Ogbu (an operative of the Department of State Security Service, who told the court, among others, how investigators interviewed Dasuki on the arms, ammunition and cash recovered from his residence.
Justice Ademola on Wednesday adjourned till June 23 and 24 for hearing of the prosecution’s application.