A Federal High Court in Abuja today resumed proceedings in the trial of suspended DCP Abba Kyari and three others behind closed doors.
Justice Emeka Nwite ordered journalists, lawyers in other cases and other litigants who were present to exit the courtroom before the commencement of proceedings, reports The Nation.
Before now, the proceedings were conducted without any restrictions on the category of people to be present.
Justice Nwite issued the order upon an application by the lead prosecuting lawyer, Sunday Joseph, who is of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
In his application, Joseph urged the court to protect the identity of his next set of witnesses listed to give evidence in the trial.
He requested that lawyers in other cases, litigants, visitors, including journalists, who were in the court should be excluded from witnessing the proceedings.
After granting Joseph’s application, Justice Nwite stood the matter down to allow non-actors in the case to vacate the courtroom.
On why he made the application, Joseph told journalists that it was to protect the witnesses, who are intelligent officers.
He added that “there is a doctrine of state privilege in the interest of national security.”
He said it was noted that members of the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) who were loyal to Abba Kyari, were still coming to court
“And, you don’t know who is who; so, it is for the witness’ protection. We are now going into the nitty gritty of the matter and there have been allegations that we are just witch-hunting them,” he said.
The lead prosecuting lawyer said though the prosecution had been calling witnesses before now, the need to protect the current set of witnesses was because their identities could not be exposed to the public.
Although some lawyers, who had cases in the court protested the court’s decision, Justice Nwite appealed for their understanding.
The judge assured them that their cases will also be heard later, adding, “you can hang around. We are not going to take the matter through out the whole day. Please bear with.”
The trial is ongoing.