Secret trial of terrorism cases illegal, Kanu tells court

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Kanu and his Lawyer

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, has gone to court to challenge the practice direction of the Federal High Court which ordered that trial of terrorism cases like his matter be done in secret.

He asked the court 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 1999 Constitution, making them inoperative and ultra vires.
Kanu, in the originating summons filed by his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, asked the court to declare the provisions invalid, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, and its Chief Registrar were listed as defendants in the suit which processes were obtained by journalists on Monday.
Justice Tsoho had released a new practice direction for the trial of terrorism cases before the court.

The cases of Kanu and Bureau de Change operators that were indicted over the sponsorship of terrorism and Boko Haram suspects are currently before the court.

Justice Tsoho said the new practice direction was in the exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 254 of the 1999 Constitution.
Under the new arrangement, the court said media coverage of proceedings is strictly prohibited.

The IPOB leader also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from applying and enforcing the provisions of the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022.

Others reliefs he sought were “A declaration that the failure of the first 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 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 first defendant under Section 254 of the 1999 Constitution are 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, Department of State Services, etc.

“An order of this Honourable 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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