By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The Federal Government has told an Abuja High Court that it is yet to recover all “sophisticated arms and ammunition” allegedly imported and kept away by immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (retired).Â
However, the government said it has recovered some of the arms and ammunitions, including cash in foreign currencies in Dasuki’s Abuja home but that security operatives were yet to locate others.Â
This position forms part of the submission of the government in an application it filed on June 3, 2016 before the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking witness protection arrangement for prosecution witnesses in Dasuki’s on-going trial before the court on charges of illegal arms possession and money laundering.Â
The government said, in the application filed by prosecution lawyer, Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), that Dasuki was a man of huge influence across the country, and that the safety of witnesses it intends calling would be threatened where their identities were not concealed.
“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.Â
“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.Â
“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.Â
“The defendant was the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA), 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.
“Most of the witnesses in this case are security personnel, who are involved in other operations across the country, while others are residents within the area of dominance of the defendant and have expressed fears of being identified by members of the public, who are sympathetic to the defendant.
“The prosecution witnesses, whose tour of duty involves carrying out covert operations for the security of the country, will have their cover blown if made to testify without any protection, hence endangering public security of the country.
“Exposing the prosecution witnesses to the public will make them easy target of highly possible attacks from those sympathetic to the defendant, who are feared to be in possession of some of the highly sophisticated arms and ammunition imported by the defendant during his tenure as NSA.
“The fears of highly probable attach 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,” it said.
The prosecution wants the court to among others, make an order allowing prosecution witnesses in the case to enjoy “witness protection by giving evidence behind screen to be provided by the court.
“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.Â
“An order permitting all prosecution witnesses to be addressed with pseudonyms in the course of proceedings.”Â
At the mention of the case Wednesday, Okpeseyi informed the court about the application, which he said my affect the business of the day.Â
The court had on the last date, May 18, took evidence from the first prosecution witness, Samuel Ogbu (an operative of the Department of State Security Service -DSS,Â who told the court, among others, how investigators interviewed Dasuki on the arms, ammunition and cash recovered from his residence.Â
Ogbu, who said Dasuki admitted keeping arms and ammunition in his residence, told the court that although one required license from the appropriate quarters to keep arms in the country, the defendant failed to produce any license authorising him toÂ keep the arms and ammunition recovered from his house.Â
Yesterday, Dasuki’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu (SAN) indicated his intention to oppose the fresh application by the prosecution. He said he intends to file a counter affidavit to that effect.Â
“We have seen the fears expressed by the prosecution in their application, and our view is that they are unfounded,” Daudu said.Â
He promised to address their position in the defendant’s counter affidavit, which he said would be filed in the next two days.Â
The trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola has adjourned to June 23 and 24 for argument of the application by the prosecution.