In what appears to be a face saving move, the Nigerian Army officers listed as witnesses in the case of alleged culpable homicide against some members of the Islamic Movement arrested since December 2015 during the infamous Zaria massacre have asked to be allowed to testify in camera, citing what they call fear for their safety as reason.q
The odd request was part of an application filed by the prosecutors before the Kaduna High Court presided by Justice Gwada that is trying close to a hundred other members of the Islamic Movement in a similar case that was earlier dismissed by another High Court for the failure of the prosecutors to establish prima facie in the case.
The prosecutors had failed to provide sufficient evidence for conviction after it concluded its case in a similar case, with the same charges, same facts and same witnesses, which led to consequent dismissal of the sister case as well as discharge and acquittal of almost a hundred members of the Islamic Movement who stood trial last year.
Ever since that time, the Kaduna state government has resorted to various delay tactics, and even attempts to deny or change the evidence they earlier presented in the matter.
In one such sitting of the court, the principal witness had sought to outrightly deny or change the key testimony he earlier presented that the soldiers had told him that Corporal Dan Kaduna, whom the members of the Islamic Movement were alleged to have killed, was indeed killed by “friendly fire,” before he was reminded.
Ever since that time, the prosecutors had tried one excuse or the other to further delay the case, including appealing against the earlier judgement. However, the appeal was dismissed today for lack of merit.
So how testifying in camera is going to assist their case remains unclear, especially as the witnesses are already well known and they had given testimony in a similar case without anything happening to them.
It would only further delay the case, as the case had been further adjourned till May for continuation.