ABUJA— The Court of Appeal in Abuja today 25 May, 2016, ruled against the application filed before it by the detained leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra and Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, through his legal defense counsels, after reserving judgement during the last court session.
The defense counsels to Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawusi, SAN Chuks Muoma and Barr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor had approached the Appeal Court to strike out the rulings of Justice John Tsoho of the FCT Court, citing him as been biased against the backdrop of his refusal to grant their clients bail, the reversal of his previous ruling against masked witnesses and then prayed the court to reassign the case to another competent judge.
According to the defense lawyer, Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the call for today's court ruling was impromptly communicated to them just yesterday, 24th of May 2016 by 8pm in the evening.
In his judgment today, the justice of the Appellate court led by Justice Abdul Aboki, dismissed the defendant's appeal, describing it as “grossly lacking in merit.” He further declined to grant the defendants bail, on the grounds that the allegations levelled against them are “grievous and serious.” in his words, he said that the lower court was right in denying Kanu bail considering the accusation levelled against him.
Read also:NNAMDI KANU: APPEAL COURT POSTPONES RULING ON KANU'S BAIL APPLICATION TO A LATER DATE ....UPDATE FROM COURT 5TH MAY 2016
Justice Aboki further mentioned that it was not in doubt that the first defendant; Kanu, possesses dual citizenship, saying that his possession of both the Nigerian and British passports could warrant him jump bail if released from detention.
On the reversing or variation of Tsoho’s earlier judgment, the Appeal court posited that Justice Tsoho had the discretion and power to decide which way or method, the trial proceedings would be followed, saying that it will not amount to the denial of fair hearing.
He said: “the lower court has the power to exercise it's discretion on the matter, and the exercise of such discretion by the trial judge did not amount to the denial of fair hearing to the defendants.”
“The issues are resolved against the appellants. Ruling of the trial court is hereby upheld.” he further stated.
Earlier before the ruling, the defense team led by Barrister Chuks Muoma, SAN, had argued that the trial Justice Tsoho breached the law when he suddenly varied against his previous ruling on March 7, 2016, on a mere oral application by the Prosecution lawyer that the witnesses be allowed to testify behind the screen or wear masks to shield their identities which he varied in his ruling on February 19, 2016.
The defense lawyers contended at the Appeal court that the variation order by Justice Tsoho was made against the law on the basis of a mere oral application instead of appropriately filing for its reversal at the Appellate court. They also opposed the FG’s application for secret trial, questioning the propriety of the court in allowing masquerades to testify against their clients.
The defense counsels also prayed the appellate court to order the Chief Judge of the FCT Court to reassign their case-file to another judge to take up the defendant's trial “since it is apparently clear that Justice Tsoho has been compromised.”
But the Federal government of Nigeria through the Prosecution team led by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mohammed Diri, in a counter affidavit filed before the appeal court, prayed for the dismissal of the appeal, saying that it lacked requisite merit.
The Prosecutor argued that the March 7 ruling of the FCT court did not amount to the variation of the February 9 ruling, insisting that Kanu and his co-defendants were never denied fair hearing by Justice Tsoho to warrant the reassignment of the case-file to another judge. They also opposed their request to be released on bail, accusing the defendants of using frivolous interlocutory appeals to delay their trial.
Recall that at the last ruling of the Federal High Court on April 26, 2016, Justice Tsoho struck out the application for the stay of proceedings by the defense lawyers pending the determination of the appeal on his previous unfavourable rulings, filed at the appellate court, which warranted them to file a supplementary application against this ruling immediately after his judgment.
The trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja was further adjourned to 20, 21, 22 and 23 of June, 2016.
Biafra Writers will keep you posted as you await for the publication of the interview on today's court ruling granted by the defense counsel, Barr. Ejiofor.
For Biafra Writers.