By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS—Trial resumed, Monday, behind closed doors in the case against an Iranian, Azim Aghajani, and a Nigerian, Alli Abass Jega, accused of importing arms illegally into Nigeria from Republic of Iran.
Trial judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke, who ordered journalists, lawyers and litigants out of the court room as the case was called, cited the need to protect national security for his decision. It was only the accused persons and their counsel that were left in court.
The court was filled up, as prosecution called its eighth witness, Brigadier-General Gabriel Oladipo,Director of Ammunition at the Headquarters of Nigerian Army, Abalti Barracks, Surulere, Lagos, to give evidence.
Gen. Oladipo, led in evidence by Director of Prosecution, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Olufemi Fatunde, told the court that “ the Nigerian Army has procurement policy based on threat analysis,” but before he could finish, Justice Okeke interjected and inquired from the prosecution if she did not consider the matter about to be related by the witness to be security- sensitive to be heard in secrecy.
She agreed with the court that the evidence of her witness could be heard after the court had been cleared of non-interested parties.
Lead defence counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, did not object to the proposal, following which the judge, said: “Everybody, including all counsel and parties, except the witness, counsel and the accused persons in the matter should leave the court now.”
The accused persons, Aghajani and Jega, are standing trial on a four- count charge of illegal importation of arms and ammunition comprising bombs, grenades, and rockets among others into the country.
They were alleged to have imported ‘without licence’ 13 container loads of firearms and ammunition into Nigeria from Iran contrary to S1. (14) of the Firearms Act, Cap MI7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.