“This court does not have the powers to vacate its earlier ruling.”
An Abuja Federal High Court on Wednesday refused an application by the Federal Government seeking to modify the court’s ruling on conducting the trial of three Boko Haram suspects.
The accused, Mohammed Yunus, Salami Abdullahi, and Musa Umar, are arraigned on an eight-count charge bordering on terrorism.
Mr. Yunus is a lecturer at the Department for Islamic Studies of Kogi State University, and was paraded alongside others in November last year for allegedly being a member of the insurgent group. He has denied being a member of the group.
Delivering ruling on Wednesday, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that the court had no powers to shield witnesses completely from the public and court staff.
He also said that the prosecution counsel’s application lacked merit and he, therefore, refused it.
“This court does not have the powers to vacate its earlier ruling. Acceding to such would amount to having empty benches in the court room without the public in attendance.
“The prosecution’s motion on notice, dated May 2, is hereby refused for lacking in merit,” he said.
He ordered that the accused be remanded in Kuje Prison and be produced on the adjourned date for trial.
Mr. Kolawole adjourned the case until June 9, 10, 24 and 25, for accelerated trial of the accused.
Earlier on April 3, Mr. Kolawole ordered for a partial secret trial for the accused.
He said that he would not shut down the entire court room, but make adequate provisions for the security of citizens that would give evidence.
N.B. Jones-Nebo, federal government’s counsel, however, brought an application urging the court to vacate the earlier ruling, to ensure total protection for the identity of prosecution witnesses.
Hassan Liman, James Ocholi, and Abdul Mohammed, counsel to the co-accused, respectively, objected to the application.
They argued that the application was a ploy by the prosecution to conceal the identities of its agents with which it intended to secure conviction at all cost against the accused.
They also said that the prosecution’s attempt to invite the court to set aside its earlier decision was an abuse of court process, adding that the court lacked power to do so.