The detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has said he does not want his terrorism trial before the Federal High Court to be done in secret.
The IPOB leader made this known in an origination summons filed by his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, to challenge the practice direction of the court.
Recalls that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has released a new practice direction for the trial of terrorism cases before the court.
According to the judge, the new practice direction stipulates that the trial of Bureau de change operators indicted over sponsorship of terrorism, and Boko Haram suspects before the court will be done in secret.
The judge said the new practice direction is in the exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
Justice Tsoho added that the new direction prohibits media coverage during proceedings.
However, in the suit filed on Monday, Kanu rejected the new practice direction of the Federal High Court in its entirety and asked the court to declare it invalid, null and void.
The IPOB leader, who listed Justice Tsoho, and its court’s Chief Registrar as defendants in the case, said the presiding judge failed to first seek and obtain the approval of the Federal Executive Council prior to enacting the new pattice of direction.
According to Kanu, the new practice direction on the trial of terrorism cases was already the subject of Section 36 (4)(a) and (b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
He also wants the court to restrain 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 court’s practice direction.
Other reliefs sought by the IPOB leader include, “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 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) isotiose 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.”