EXCLUSIVE: Terrorism Financing: Why Court Banned Lawyers, Journalists From Tukur Mamu’s Trial
Lawyers and litigants, including journalists, were, on Friday, ordered to vacate courtroom 7 of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court (FHC), where the trial of Tukur Mamu was held.
When the matter was called, E.A Kaswe, counsel from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), who is prosecuting the case on the federal government’s behalf, told the court that their witnesses were in court for the trial.
Mr 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.
Mr Ekwo granted the prayer and ordered everyone to vacate the court except the 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.
Justice Ekwo had, on Wednesday, granted an application by the FG to protect witnesses lined up in the prosecution of Mr Mamu, who is being tried over his alleged relationship with terrorists involved in last year’s attack on a Kaduna-bound train.
The judge granted the application following an ex-parte motion moved by Mr Kaswe.
Moving the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/96/2023, Mr Kaswe said the application, dated May 11, was filed on June 15.
He said the motion was brought pursuant to sections 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, which 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 Mr Mamu 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.
“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.”
Mr Mamu was, on March 21, arraigned by the office of the attorney-general of the federation on ten counts bordering on terrorism financing, especially on the recent Abuja-Kaduna train attack.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr 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 charges, the federal government accused him of aiding and abetting Boko Haram terrorism attacks against innocent Nigerians.
He was accused of collecting sums of money in various currencies on behalf of Boko Haram terrorists from the families of the train attack.
Mr Mamu was said to have collected $420,000 from families of the attack and another N21 million from other 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.