The Federal High Court in Abuja has been instructed by the Nigerian government to conduct a secret trial to cross-examine witnesses in the ongoing case of alleged treasonable felony and other charges against Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. The IPOB leader and two others, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, are currently facing charges of alleged treason, maintaining unlawful society, possession of firearms, among other crimes.
The Director of Prosecution in the office of the Attorney General, and also Counsel to the federal government, in the person of Mohammed Diri, asked the court to permit the conduct of secret trial for the protection of the witnesses. But the counsel to the first defendant, Chuks Muoma, opposed the application for secret trial, saying military personnel were already providing adequate security during the trial, so there may be no need for such enclosed trial.
However, he urged the court to order the return of $2,200 (N87,000) and two international passports collected from Mr. Kanu upon his arrest. Mr. Muoma said the prosecution, despite collecting the said amount and items, had deliberately avoided stating anything regarding them in its affidavit. He prayed the court to order the return of those item, emphasizing that the allegations levied against his client have not yet been proven in court.
Mr. Diri objected, stating that the defendants had the right, as stipulated in Section 10 (7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, to ask for their items, from the prosecution. In his response, Mr. Mouma said it is only the court that can grant the relief sought by his client. The trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, ruled that the submission of the prosecution counsel that the application for release of his client’s items should be made to the office of the AGF was wrong.
Justice Tsoho noted that since the defendants had been brought before the court of law, the manner of making the application for retrieval of items was duly made. He however ruled that since evidences were yet to be tendered before the court on the matter, it would be improper to assume that the items were not important to the prosecution.
Hear Justice Tsoho;
I hold a humble view that just as the prosecution is not to be confined to the number of witnesses it can bring before a court, its number of evidences cannot also be limited.
The case was adjourned to February 19th, 2016 for ruling on the application for secret trial. Meanwhile, on Monday when Mr Nnamdi Kanu was taken to court, he gave the security agents some tough time, as he refused to step out of the prison van, or take off his handcuffs. However, after much persuasions from his lead lawyer, Mr. Chuks Muoma, the IPOB leader reluctantly obeyed, alighted the van and went into court, but he still refused to take off his handcuffs.