Monday, November 28, 2022

Nnamdi Kanu withdraws suit against chief judge, struck out secret trial

The Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out Nnamdi Kanu’s suit against its Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho following the separatist leader’s decision to withdraw the suit.

SaharaReporters in June reported that the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Kanu filed a fresh suit against Tsoho over the adoption of a secret trial policy in the criminal charges brought against him by the Nigerian Government.

The Federal High Court had ordered that the trial of Kanu who is standing trial for various offences bordering on alleged terrorism and treasonable felony against the Nigerian state after he was arrested by the secret service, Department of State Services, and renditioned to Nigeria on June 27, 2021, should be done in secret.

In a suit challenging the order, Kanu through his counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor 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 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and consequently, “they are otiose, inoperative and outrightly ultra vires”.

The Chief Registrar of the court at the Federal High Court, Abuja was also joined in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/556/2022.

Meanwhile, Justice Tsoho had 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).

According to the Chief Judge, the court strictly prohibited media coverage of Kanu’s proceedings under the new arrangement.

But Kanu wanted 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 from applying and enforcing the provisions of the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022.

Among others, he also prayed the court for “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.”

But in his judgment on Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo struck out the suit following a dramatic withdrawal by the Biafra Nation agitator.

At Friday’s proceedings, the counsel for Kanu announced that the IPOB leader was no longer interested in continuing with the case, and therefore a withdrawal would be in line.

Ejiofor later told journalists that the suit was withdrawn by his client after learning that the secret trial adopted during his trials was not targeted at him.

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