Judge hands off Nnamdi Kanu’s case

By Ikenga Chronicles September 26, 2016

— Bridget Chiedu Onochie

Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has returned the case file of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for reassignment.

Kanu alongside his co-accused, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, are facing a six-count charge of treasonable felony brought against them by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

At the resumed trial yesterday, Kanu’s lead counsel, Chuks Muoma (SAN), brought an application, stating that the court was biased in the manner it has handled the matter so far.

He told the court that his client has written a petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and that it will only be proper for the court to suspend hearing of the case pending the outcome of the investigation.

He further informed the court that NJC has responded to the petition filed by Kanu against Justice Tsoho, stressing that they were investigating the matter.

“We are only asking the court to hands off the case; my client has lost confidence in this court.

“Following the development, all we are asking this court to do is to hands off the case pending the outcome of NJC’s Investigation.

“It would not be proper for the court to continue with this matter when the investigation is ongoing. So, in the interest of justice, we are asking the court to hands off the case.

“I would urge the court to transfer the matter. I would suggest that it be sent back to the CJ”, he said.

He claimed that the court was acting in line with the suggestion of President Muhammadu Buhari that Kanu was not going to be released under any circumstance.

But Justice Tsoho in a short ruling held that he has no personal interest in the trial of Kanu.

He therefore decided to return the case file to the CJ, Justice Auta.

The Judge also condemned the attitude of the defence counsel, noting that he acted unprofessionally through his utterances.

He pointed out that he would not care if the case was taken to another planet.

Justice Tsoho ruled that since the defense counsel noted the lack of confidence in the way the court has handled the case, “it is only reasonable for the court to disqualify itself from a further hearing on the matter.

“Accordingly, this case is hereby forwarded to the Chief Judge for further re-assignment”, the Judge said.

He added that logically, the procedure would have been for the court to wait for the response of the NJC so as not to preempt NJC’s decision but he has to go on with the decision.

Kanu had petitioned the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) against Justice Tsoho for “committing judicial rascality” over two rulings given against him.

In the petition signed by his counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu called for an investigation into the rulings of the court over the permission granted the Department of State Services (DSS) to protect its witness in his trial.

Ejiofor said the conduct of the Judge in the trial of his client was a fundamental breach of his judicial oath.

Kanu also called for a correction of the “rascality” made by the Judge in accordance with the Oath Act.

The petition held that the lead counsel in the matter, Chuks Muoma (SAN), was shut out in an open court by Justice Tsoho for briefly outlining his written brief in support of its application for stay of proceedings even when court rules allows for 20 minutes of oral argument.

The Nigerian government through the DSS had applied to the court to seek a secret trial of Kanu, where the government’s witnesses can testify and give evidence against the three defendants – Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwauwisi by wearing a mask or hiding behind a screen or curtain.

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