Monday 26 September, 2016
ABUJA--- Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja today, stepped down from the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and other defendants in the case.
The continued trial which started at exactly 10 O'Clock in the morning after the arrival of the presiding judge saw the introduction of the legal representatives on both sides of the prosecution and the defense.
The Prosecution counsel to the FG, S.N Labaran when called upon, expressed surprise on the motion filed on 20th June, 2016 which he said he couldn't go through because according to him, it is voluminous.
He continued, saying he needed to extract and study the relevant ones from the records but was unable to conclude till the case came up, telling the honourable court that application should be closed and dismissed.
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On the side of the defense team, two new counsels were injected to appeal for the second and third defendants, thereby leaving Muoma, Ejiofor and others on the side of the first defendant, Nnamdi Kanu.
The senior defense lawyer to the first defendant, Chuks Muoma, SAN, said he has been vindicated by the court records saying that he had observed that nothing could be obtained from that application, he however expressed surprise that the prosecution team will be closing the application.
In a new petition to the National Judicial Council, NJC, the defense team accused Justice Tsoho of “judicial rascality” and called for his investigation by the council.
However, Barrister I. E Eseme, a new defense lawyer representing the second defendant, Benjamin Madubugwu queried that since the first defendant has stated that they have no confidence in this court, why not the case taken to another court since the right of the defendants is paramount.
In the same vein, the new defense lawyer to the 3rd defendant, Maxwell Okpara noted that this case is of public interest and that his client has expressed non-confidence in the court describing it as compromised court following his parallel judgments on the same request.
This led to a heated debate and a brief rumbling in court when Judge Tsoho stated that they cannot just stand up and start making statements. He ordered the defense lawyer to the 3rd defendant to sit down saying he is not the NJC and that if there is any complaints he wants to lay, he should go to the NJC.
The 3rd defendants however faulted the decision of the court not to grant the defendants bail, reiterating that his client has lost confidence, adding that if they cannot get justice in this court, they will have proceed to the International court.
Justice Tsoho expressed surprise on the statements made by the defence lawyers, saying he doesn't know if they are going through the normal channel.
Barrister Eseme noted that the motion was filed on 20th June and up till now, it has not been served to the applicants.
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At the opening of the court session, Chuks Muoma, argued that the continuation of the matter by Judge Tsoho would amount to a great disservice since there was a petition against him, before the NJC.
He (Muoma), noted that they have approached the CJN and he responded that the matter is under investigation, pleading for a path of prudence on the part of the court.
He also alleged that the petitioners of the motion has something up their sleeves, adding that if they don't appreciate the manner he is going about the case, it should be transferred to another judge.
The defense lawyers all expressed loss of confidence from their client they are representing which led John Tsoho saying that he is not interested in the case, promising to hand over the case to the Chief Judge of the High Court so that he can assign the case to another judge
Announcing his final judgment, John Tsoho stepped down of the case saying, “following the alleged lack of confidence on the side of the defendants and noncompliance of the prosecution, the court will go on to disqualify itself from the case even without the conclusion of the investigation by the NJC.”
He said the court is minded not to prolong the issue, striking our the cases before it hence the lack of confidence by the defendants.
“This case will hereby be returned to the Hon Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.”
“Even if I am cleared of any bias by the NJC, I will not continue with this case,” said Mr. Tsoho.
Biafra Writers were granted an interview by Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor, to enlighten the public more on the outcome of today's court session, and next line of action.
Reporting from Abuja,
Chukwuemeka Chimerue and
Anyikwa Kelechi Cynthia
For Biafra Writers