Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has gone to court to dispute the Federal High Court’s practice directive ordering that his trial be held in secret.
He requested that the court 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 Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution, 1999, as amended, and thus inoperative and outright ultra vires.
This comes as the head of an IPOB breakaway faction, Simon Ekpa, has resisted demands to halt the Monday sit-in order in protest of Kanu’s ongoing arrest.
Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, requested the court to declare it “invalid, null, void, and of no consequence whatsoever” in the initial summons.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, and its Chief Registrar were listed as defendants in the suit which processes were obtained by journalists yesterday.
Justice John Tsoho had released a new practice direction for the trial of terrorism cases before the court.
The cases of Nnamdi 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).
Under the new arrangement, the court said media coverage of proceedings is strictly prohibited.
“Coverage of proceedings under these practice directions is strictly prohibited, save as may be directed by the court. A person who contravenes an order or direction made under these practices shall be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to Section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended,” the document stated.
The IPOB leader also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining 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 provisions of the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022.
Others reliefs were “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) is 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.
“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.”
We’ll lay to rest 7-count charge against Nnamdi Kanu —Legal Team
Also yesterday, the legal team of the Kanu said it would explore compelling legal processes to finally lay to rest the remaining 7-count charge still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja against the IPOB leader.
The IPOB lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, disclosed this to newsmen in Owerri, after the legal team visited Kanu at the Department of State Services, DSS, in Abuja, yesterday.
Ejiofor said it was part of the interaction they had with Kanu, at the DSS detention centre.
He said: “The routine Court-Ordered visit to our indefatigable client – Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu , has just been concluded. We had an incisive review of compelling legal processes we are exploring to ensure that the remaining 7-count charge still pending is permanently laid to rest.
“Onyendu extends his heartfelt gratitude to all UmuChineke for remaining steadfast and undeterred. He is, as usual, profoundly impressed by your demonstration of uncommon discipline, unity, understanding, loyalty, and forthrightness.
“Onyendu observed that this trying phase is on the verge of extinction and the name of ChukwuOkike Abiama will be eternally glorified. Onyendu emphasized vigilance, particularly in times like this, and highly commended you all for your peaceful conduct, even in the face of seemingly unprovoked attacks. He encouraged you all to always be on guard, even in your prayers and supplications to the Almighty ChukwuOkike Abiama.”
Blame Simon Ekpa’s group for forcibly enforcing sit-at-home in S-East —IPOB
Meanwhile, the move by governors of the South East to stem the spate of killings and economic destruction in the zone has not been successful.
Finland- based Simon Ekpa, a former disciple of Nnamdi Kanu and the self-proclaimed leader of a splinter IPOB group, has rejected calls for an end to the sit-at-home order by governors in the South East, the latest being Professor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State.
The new group, led by Simon Ekpa, has opposed the IPOB order cancelling the sit-at-home in southeast states and has continued to instil fear in the minds of residents of the South East, with violent enforcement of its version of the sit-at-home, leading to deaths of scores, burning of vehicles, shops, law enforcement agents and electoral officials.
IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful in a statement alleged: “It is certain Simon Ekpa and his gang called Autopilots are carrying out threats against people’s lives because of non-existent Monday sit-at-home. These people disturbing the peace of our people are not IPOB members. IPOB doesn’t shed blood. We are a peaceful movement.”
He maintained:“We wish to reiterate, once again, that IPOB has cancelled the Monday sit-at-home order, and anybody or group enforcing it is neither from us nor our volunteer group. Any governor in the region who deems it fit to stop the non-existent Monday sit-at-home order in the region is free to do so.
“Anyone caught adding to the pain of our people in the name of enforcing Monday sit-at-home order will be treated like the enemy that he or she is.
“We therefore, warn these agents of darkness using the name of the IPOB to enforce a non-existent sit-at-home to desist.
“Why should such unpatriotic elements be inflicting pain on our people and dragging our image to the mud? The IPOB remains a non-violent movement and our peaceful approach to Biafra restoration has not changed.
It will be recalled that the IPOB leadership called for the Monday sit-at-home and the same people cancelled it.
“Nobody was given the mandate to enforce the same suspended sit-at-home using the name of the IPOB. The only day the sit-at-home will be observed in Biafra land is when our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is appearing in court; and we shall, as usual, make it public for all to know.”
Recall that Governor Soludo on March 25, warned civil servants not to comply with the sit-at-home order on Mondays, while appealing to the Autopilots to lay down their arms and embrace rehabilitation. He declared amnesty for all armed groups in the zone, while pledging to lead other governors in the zone to seek an amicable resolution of the crisis.
Ekpa’s group, however, rejected all the declarations and pledges.
A statement by the Head of Service of Anambra State, Theodora Igwegbe read: “Following the need to reposition the service for better performance and productivity, Prof Charles Soludo has directed that all public servants should henceforth report to their places of work on Mondays as they do on other workdays.”
But Ekpa, on the same March 25, twitted through his handle, @simon_ekpa, “Soludo’s directive to civil servant (sic) in Anambra is dead on arrival. He should ask other governors. Obiano went to the street as a town crier (sic) to no avail. We are warning Soludo not to use his overzealousness to endanger the lives (sic) of our women and children as the Department of State Services (DSS) are killing them.”