The Federal Government yesterday told an FCT High Court that a star prosecution witness scheduled to testify in the trial of Justice Adeniyi Ademola recently escaped an assassination attempt.
Prosecution counsel, Barrister Segun Jegede, told the court that the witness, Dr. Sani Shuaibu Teidi, called him in the early hours of yesterday (2am) to inform him of an attempt on his life. He told the court the witness is presently being kept by the Police in an undisclosed location for his safety.
He added that “Three days ago while I was having a meeting with Dr. Teidi, he mentioned to me that he received a call from somebody to broker a meeting between himself and Justice Ademola”.
Justice Ademola’s counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) in objecting to the prosecution’s narrative said: “If a client is mentioned in any allegation, you approached the counsel first.” He added that the investigating agencies should have been contacted to carry out the necessary investigation and take appropriate steps. He urged the court to “discourage this move of playing to media gallery.”
Jegede while replying urged the court to grant an order of witness protection. “Witnesses are now being systematically threatened and I will urge the court to order an investigation into this matter and order a witness protection for this witness to be able to give evidence”, he said.
The trial judge, Justice Jude Okeke ruled that since the prosecution did not disclosed to the court who is threatening the witnesses and that since the prosecution has said the Commissioner of Police (COP) and the Maitama division of the Nigeria Police Force are already abreast of the matter, the court will not interfere with the ongoing investigation. “The COP is hereby ordered to provide security for not only the prosecution’s witnesses but also the defendants and their witnesses if they so desired”, the judge ruled.
Meanwhile, in response to the prosecution’s prayer for an adjournment, counsel to Mrs. Ademola (2nd defendant), Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) criticised the “careless” approach employed by the prosecution stating that it is in contradiction to what the present administration represents.
Justice Okeke, in his ruling, held that the prosecution did not present any cogent reason for applying for an adjournment but giving it a benefit of doubt the court adjourned trial to continue today. He however warned the prosecution to ensure its witnesses are in court today or face the consequences. “To be forewarned is to be forearmed”, he ruled.