An Abuja Federal High Court today, April 26th, 2016, refused to grant Nnamdi Kanu’s application for stay of proceedings he filed alongside his co-accused, David Nwawusi and Benjamin Madubugwu, asking for stay of proceedings in their ongoing trial pending determination of his appeal before the appellate court.
Kanu, alongside the two other defendants had gone before the court of appeal to challenge what they termed “strange procedure” adopted in their trial as they believe that trial Justice Tsoho erred in law “when having refused the application for the witnesses of the prosecution to testified behind screens, or masked” on February 19, 2016, “suddenly varied the said order in the ruling delivered on March 7, 2016, on a mere oral application by the respondent”.
Justice James Tsoho ruled that Kanu’s application for stay of proceedings did not follow due process and was not based on the facts of the case and consequently, would proceed in the mode earlier directed by the court.
The trio are being tried on a six count charge of treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and other offences bordering on their agitation for secession of the Republic of Biafra from Nigeria.
In dismissing Kanu’s application for stay of proceedings on Tuesday, Justice Tsoho depended on provisions of section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which formally forbid courts from entertaining motions for stay of proceedings with regards to criminal cases.
Contrary to the argument by Chuks Muoma, the defendants’ lawyer, Justice Tsoho was of the opinion that the provision of section 306 of ACJ Act could not refuse an accused person fair hearing or right of appeal entitled to an aggrieved party in a criminal case in section 241 of the Constitution. He instead held that the provision of the ACJ Act was to enhance the right to speedy trial guaranteed an accused person in the Constitution.
He further explained that it was not in doubt that the Federal High Court had jurisdiction to hear criminal cases. In his ruling, the judge said:
“It is more so, given that the application for stay of proceedings is not founded on lack of intrinsic jurisdiction of this court but on mode of procedure to be adopted in the trial.”
Read More: Biafra: Kanu, Others Ask Court To Stop Trial
The court after refusing to grant the application held that the trial would continue in the manner he had earlier directed on March 7 which was to shield the witnesses from public view and not to wear masks.
The case was adjourned till June 20th to June 23rd for trial.