IPOB’s Nnamdi Kanu, files fresh suit against Abuja court chief judge, registrar over secret trial policy

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Nnamdi KanuThe detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu has slammed a fresh suit against a Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Terhamba Tsoho, over the adoption of a secret trial policy in the criminal charges brought against him by the Nigerian Government. Kanu who was arrested by the Nigerian secret service, Department of State Services, and rendition to Nigeria on June 27, 2021, is standing trial for various offences bordering on alleged terrorism and felony against the Nigeria state. However, recently the Federal High Court ordered that his trial should be done in secret. But Kanu opposed a secret trial and instituted a suit to challenge the order.
He asked the court through his counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor to declare that the provisions of Order III of the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022, were already the subject of Section 36 (4)(a) and (b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and consequently, “they are otiose, inoperative and outrightly ultra vires.”

Also joined in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/556/2022, is the Chief Registrar of the court at the Federal High Court, Abuja. Justice Tsoho said the new practice direction was in the exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Under the new arrangement, the court said media coverage of proceedings is strictly prohibited.

“Coverage of proceedings under these practice directions is strictly prohibited, save as may be directed by the court. A person who contravenes an order or direction made under these practices shall be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to Section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended,” the document stated.

The IPOB leader also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, whether by themselves, servants, agents, privies, and all other officers and agents of the Federal High Court of Nigeria from applying and enforcing the provisions of the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022, according to a report by The Easterner. Other reliefs sought were “A declaration that the failure of the 1st defendant to first seek and obtain the approval of the Federal Executive Council (or the National Council of Ministers) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria prior to enacting the Federal High Court Practice Directions (on Trials of Terrorism Cases), 2022, as required by Section 44 of the Federal High Court Act renders the Federal High Court Practice Direction (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022, ultra vires, null and void.

“A declaration that Order III Rules 3(b) and (d) of the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trials of Terrorism Cases) 2022, which respectively empower a Federal High Court trying terrorism cases ‘to receive evidence by video link, and to receive a written deposition of expert witness’ are inconsistent with Items 23 and 68 of the Exclusive Legislative List as well as Paragraph 2(b) of Part III of the 2nd Schedule to the Constitution which confers on the National Assembly the exclusive power to make rules of evidence, both substantive and adjectival and are therefore ultra vires, null and void to the extent of the inconsistency

“A declaration that Order IV Rule 2 of the Federal High Court Practice Direction (on Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022, which provides that a person who contravenes an order or direction made under these Directions shall be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to Section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011, (as amended) is otiose and inoperative because the National Assembly had already covered the field vide Section 34(5) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011, as amended.

“A declaration that the rule-making powers of the 1st Defendant under Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, is limited to the premises of the Federal High Court and do not extend to outside its perimeters, which are under the exclusive responsibility of law enforcement agencies such as the Police, DSS, etc; and an order of this Honorable court declaring the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022, unconstitutional ultra vires, invalid, null, void, and of no effect.”

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