Take Ese’s evidence in camera, prosecution tells court

No, it can’t work – Defence team

By Abdulrahman A. Abdulrauf

A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, yesterday adjourned hearing into the case of alleged abduction brought against Yunusa Dahiru till March 21.
Yunusa, aka Yellow, an indigene of Kano state, was last week arraigned by the police on a five-count charge bordering on abduction of a 13-year-old Ese Oruru, a resident of Bayelsa state.

At the resumed hearing yesterday, police special prosecutor, Kenneth Dika, asked that Ese’s evidence should be taken in camera, stressing that giving the age of the girl, as a minor, it would be odd to hear her evidence in an open court.
But the defence team objected to the secret trial, insisting that the case was already in the public domain and that it would not make any difference.
In his submission, Yunusa’s lead counsel, Kayode Olaosebikan, told the judge that “already the girl’s picture is all over the place and that there would not be anything to shield from the public.”

“The media has reported the development and to now opt for evidence- in- camera would not be in the interest of justice. Nigerians and indeed the whole world should be allowed to have the benefit of how the trial goes, so that everybody would from her demeanour, know the truth,” he said.
Moving the bail application, the defence team told the court that the accused should be granted bail, since the charges involved were ordinarily bailable.
Although Olaosebikan assured the court that his client would not jump bail, the prosecutor opposed the application.

According to Dika, from the experience the police went through in getting Ese down to Bayelsa, his application for bail should not be granted.
Specifically, the prosecutor claimed that the Muslim community in the North worked against the police’s search efforts at locating Ese’s whereabouts.
He, therefore, urged the court not to admit the accused person to bail.
Upon hearing the submissions from the two parties, the trial judge, Justice H.A Nganjiwa, adjourned the matter till March 21, to rule on both the bail application as well as the prosecutor’s prayer for Ese’s evidence-in-camera.

Also speaking with our reporter on the telephone, one of the defence lawyers, Huwaila Muhammed explained that all the 10-man defence team wants is justice.
Asked if they were out to mitigate Yunusa’s punishment considering the allegation involved, she said: “No, we are not out for that. All we want in this matter is justice for the two of them, and I assure you this will be best for our justice system. Irrespective of where you come from, justice is justice, no matter who is concerned, and certainly in this case it is not going to be different.”

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