Kanu challenges High Court order directing secret trial of terrorism cases
Daily Courier -The detained leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has challenged the practice direction of the Federal High Court, which ordered that his trial be conducted in secret.
Recall Justice Tsoho had released a new practice direction for the trial of terrorism cases before the court.
The cases of Kanu, Bureau de Change operators indicted over sponsorship of terrorism and Boko Haram suspects are currently before the court.
Justice Tsoho 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).
However, challenging the order, Kanu in a suit filed on Monday, rejected the new practice direction of the Federal High Court in its entirety and asked the court to declare it invalid, null and void.
Kanu, in an originating summons filed by his lawyer, 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 areotiose, inoperative and outrightly ultra vires.”
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.”
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, and its Chief Registrar were listed as defendants in the suit.