The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, granted an application by the Federal Government to protect the identity of the witnesses lined up to testify against an alleged terrorist collaborator, Tukur Mamu.
The Kaduna-based cleric and publisher is facing trial in connection with the terror attack on a Kaduna-Abuja train in March last year, leading to the death of at least eight persons with scores abducted for ransom.
Mamu, who was arraigned in March this year, is facing 10 counts bordering on terrorism financing, among others.
He was accused of receiving ransom payments in the sum of $120, 000 on behalf of the Boko Haram terrorists from families of hostages of the train attack
Mamu was also accused of exchanging voice-note communications in relation to acts of terrorism with one Baba Adamu (a Boko Haram spokesperson).
Furthermore, he was accused of dealing in terrorist funds in the sum of $300,000, which were allegedly found in his possession.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Wednesday, counsel for the Attorney General of the Federation, D.E. Kaswe, took an ex parte application before Justice Inyang Ekwo for an order to protect the identity of the prosecution witnesses.
In the motion sighted by the News Agency of Nigeria, the FG prayed for “an order of this honorable court shielding the physical identity of the prosecution witnesses by wearing facial masks and/or the use of screen whenever prosecution witnesses are testifying.”
The prosecution also prayed the court to direct the use of pseudonyms by prosecution witnesses “and deleting the real names and addresses of prosecution witnesses throughout the proceedings of this case.”
Furthermore, the government lawyer prayed for an order “excluding persons other than parties and their legal representatives at the hearing of the above-named charge except for members of the accredited press.”
Justice Ekwo, in a ruling, granted the motion as prayed.
Earlier, when the matter was called, Mamu, who was the sole defendant in the charge, was not in court.
Kaswe then told the court that Mamu was still on his way with the security operatives.
“I urge this honorable court to stand down this matter as they are still on their way coming,” he prayed.
But the judge refused the application, quipping: “Do you think this is a stand-down court? That application is refused.”
The case was subsequently adjourned till July 21 for the commencement of trial.