Lawyers, journalists, others barred from ex-terrorists Takur Mamu’s negotiator trial
Lawyers, litigants, including journalists, were on Friday, ordered to vacate Courtroom 7 of a Federal High Court, Abuja where the trial of ex-terrorist negotiator, Tukur Mamu, was holding.
When the matter was called, counsel from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, E.A Kaswe, who is prosecuting the case on Federal Government’s behalf, told the court that their witnesses were in court for the trial.
Kaswe then urged Justice Inyang Ekwo to enforce the order granted to the prosecution on Wednesday when the matter came up
“May I humbly ask the court to enforce the order granted for all parties not party to the suit to vacate the court,” he prayed.
Justice Ekwo, who granted the prayer, ordered everyone to vacate the court, except parties in the suit.
The development was, however, contrary to the application by the prosecution that accredited journalists at the FHC should be allowed to observe proceedings in the trial.
The trial is ongoing as of the time of filing the report.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Justice Ekwo had, on Wednesday, granted an application by the FG to protect witnesses lined up in the prosecution of Mamu, who is being tried over his alleged relationship with terrorists that were involved in last year’s attack on a Kaduna-bound train.
The judge granted the application following an ex-parte motion moved by Kaswe to the effect.
Moving the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/96/2023, Kaswe said the application dated May 11, was filed on June 15.
He said the motion was brought pursuant to Section 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 FG 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.”
NAN reports that Mamu, a former terrorists’ negotiator, 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, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The court, on April 27, also declined to grant him bail on grounds of ill health.
The judge, who held that the grounds were not cogent enough to grant bail to the defendant facing terrorism-related charges, also cited Mamu’s failure to debunk the claims contained in the counter-affidavit filed to oppose his bail application by the Department of State Services, the agency keeping him in custody.
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 charge, the Federal Government accused him of aiding and abetting Boko Haram terrorism attacks against innocent Nigerians.
He was accused of collecting various sums of money in various currencies on behalf of Boko Haram terrorists from the families of the train attack.
He was said to have collected $420, 000 from families of the attack, and another N21 million from another set of 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.
He denied all the charges when it was read to him.