Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja has today handed off the case of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and returned the case file to the Chief Judge for re-assignment.
Kanu’s lead counsel, Chuks Muoma (SAN) told the court that it will only be proper for the court to suspend hearing of the case pending the outcome of investigation of the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC). He informed the court that the NJC has responded to the petition filed by Kanu against the judge, saying they are investigating the matter.
Responding to Muoma, the judge said since the application was brought before him, the rules of the court demands he hears it no matter how frivolous it may appear. At the resumption of the hearing today, Kanu was absent in court. However, as the judge was about to deliver his rulings, he was led in alongside the two other defendants by the men of Nigerian Prisons Services.
Justice Tsoho ruled that since the defense counsel noted lack of confidence in the way the court is handling the case, “it is only reasonable this court refuses itself from further hearing the matter.” “Accordingly, this case is hereby forwarded to the Chief Judge for further re-assignment”, the judge ruled.
He said 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.
The embattled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu had petitioned the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) against Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja of “committing judicial rascality” over two rulings given against him.
In the petition signed by his counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, he 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 is in 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 noted that the lead counsel in the matter, Chuks Muoma (SAN) was shut out in an open court by Justice Tsoho from 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 among other things, 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/curtain.