Court clears Nigerian govt to bring masked witnesses in Nnamdi Kanu’s trial

Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu

A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday granted an order seeking the protection of witnesses during the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.

Earlier in February, the court refused the federal government’s application to mask its witnesses in Mr. Kanu’s trial

But Justice John Tsoho gave the new ruling after hearing the arguments of both counsel for and against government’s application to produce witnesses protected “by a screen”.

Mr. Kanu and two others, Benjamin Maudubugwu and David Nwawuisi, are standing trial for treason, maintaining an unlawful society, among other charges.

The lead defence counsel, Chuks Muoma, who recounted the various stages of the case since it started in October 2015, accused the prosecution of unwittingly prolonging the matter.

He said the prosecution had on three occasions disobeyed the order of court and re-arrested Mr. Kanu after he was granted bail by various courts.

Mr. Muoma also said the prosecution had a right to appeal if it was dissatisfied with any ruling or proceedings of the court.

He said further that his clients had for too long remained in detention, without substantive trial, arguing that the prayer of the prosecution to adjourn the matter till witnesses are protected was a ploy to further detain the clients.

Mr. Muoma said the law provides for the prosecution to invite the defendant to court for arraignment.

He said the section states that when the case is called, the defendant appears voluntarily after court sermons or is brought to court by a court warrant.

But in the event where the complainant fails to appear and make its matters known in court, the case could be struck out.

Mr. Kanu’s lead counsel therefore asked the court to give an order for the prosecution to proceed with the matter or strike out the case.

He also prayed the court to discharge his clients after striking out the case and issue a restriction order, preventing any further arrest of the three defendants by the SSS or any other agency for related offences.

But in his response, prosecution counsel, Mohammed Diri, who is also the Deputy Director of Prosecution in the Office of the Attorney General, said the law cited by the defence counsel talks basically about the absence of the complainant, stressing that the complainants in this case were fully present in court.

Mr. Diri then stated that his request bordered on a variation of the court order made on February 19 for the presentation of witnesses in such manner, as to accommodate a section for the protection of the said witnesses.

But Mr. Muoma objected, stressing that an application for such a variation should have been made in a written document within 14 days after the order was made requesting the appearance of witnesses in court, not as a verbal request before the court.

Mr. Diri however prayed the court to grant a short adjournment to allow him prepare a written request for a variation of the court order.

In his ruling, Mr. Tsoho noted that Section 351 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act mentioned must be considered in relation to the complainant in this matter.

“For the provision to apply, it must first be ascertained who the complainant is,” said the judge.

Mr. Tsoho said the matter before him is between the three defendants and the federal government – represented by Mr. Diri.

He therefore ruled that the said provision does not apply in the quest to dismiss the matter as tabled before him.

Mr. Tsoho further ruled that the request made by Mr. Diri does not vary much with the Order Three of the court’s ruling on February 19.

The judge, who noted that the court had previously ruled against the masking of witnesses, however gave an order (Order 3), which allowed for the presentation of witnesses protected from identification by the general public.

He said the screened witnesses would be visible to the defendants and the counsel.

“In the light of this, the court is disposed to granting the application sought by the learned DPP,” the judge ruled.

The case was adjourned till March 9 for presentation of the masked witnesses.

Meanwhile, the defence counsel said they would contest the decision of the court.

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  • Julius

    Protecting witnesses is done all over the world. I would say let them show their faces because its another biafraudian that dimed on him. Make dem face each other na.

    • Comfortkay

      God bless you Sir. Protecting or covering of witnesses face in still happening in Europe. Running mouth on newspaper will not help Mr Kanu

      • Julius

        You will see some people coming on here telling us that its can only happen in Nigeria. They will claim its never been done before in the history of mankind. Or, its been done because he is an Ibo man. Nonsense.

        • David Musaed

          And you will be surprised most of them Haven’t stepped inside MM int airport or any int airport in their life. You know what I mean

          • Julius

            No mind them. They love ranting about ‘he rule of law’ when they think it favours them but, throw that out of the window when it doesnt

          • Otile

            As expected more and more oduafraudian worms are coming out of the wood-works. Some Oduafraidian will accuse Igbo of traveling to all parts of the world, then another dullard will say in denial: “And you will be surprised most of them Haven’t stepped inside MM int
            airport or any int airport in their life. You know what I mean”

            Awon omo oduafraudians continue contradicting yourselves and continue displaying your_stupidity to the world. Nobody believes you liars anymore.

          • David Musaed

            Otile or whatever your name is, i wont drag issues with you. I am not a tribal bigot like you, i love every tribe in Nigeria because i have lived with 90% of the tribes in Nigeria. So take your hatred and miserable life somewhere else

        • Otile

          Stop this crap. How can you mask an Islamist to bear a credible witness? Your fellow muslims suicide bombers always wear masks to kill people. That day you will not see the judge. The defendant and his team will be in court waiting for the case to start; bang, the masked muslim will detonate the bomb. What are you cunning islamists trying to pull here? Show of shame.

          • Julius

            Faggot, the witnesses are Ibos , losers like you and Kanu. Thats what you do to your own people. You sell them out. Give Ibo man some money and you sell your mother, give her up to the authority. Clowns ! Faggot, who do you think gave him up at the hotel ? You guess right, an Ibo man. You losers are your own worst enemy. Keep lying to yourself blaming other people. I wont be surprised if his brother, cousin are the witness.

      • Otile

        Yeah, give the devil the cover he needs. Cover the devil’s face with thick masks so that he can invent more lies. That’s the change we need; after all this done all over the Islamic world as some oduafraudian dummy would say.

  • ita ekpo

    If sharia law can not grant witness of mask cover. How come the government of Nigeria would be going against the constitution of Nigeria. How can the separation of president power and judicially be known. When it comes to constitution of Nigeria. So Nigeria from democracy to military regime. This is terrible you can not stand to say word you are the target. This kind change will soon come with happening to the president to know that. There is one man who control everything his name is God. What anger APC party and their leader want to rule the end is what they do not know. We see another abacha regime which he will befall like abacha. Biafra and Nigeria will still be there. As no man have taken with him what God have done or created. Buhari will be history of wicked president Nigeria have ever had. Since nobody there to blame him as we are back to slavery under APC and their leader buhari to change as deceitful.

  • Otile

    This kangaroo court is copying what the haters did to Mandela by the apartheid corrupt justice system. They help Mandela for 27 years but Mandela never gave up. The Islamists did the same to South Sudanese liberators. Today al-Bashir is in hiding, he cannot travel outside Sudan without being captured by the civilized society. Illiterate Buhari is digging his own grave while his Yoruba slaves are cheering him.

    • Otile

      They held Mandela for 27 years…

  • ita ekpo

    Buhari can you take us or show us in the entire world where such mask witness is been carry out. Everything about laws have school or course to study. This mask cover witness is it from Fulani tribe or maize course. Don’t let this school of mask witness put you where you did not expect. Because when you will be ask to present certificate plus you don’t have yours to be added. It will land you to illegal school not recognise by the Nigeria constitution. This, you are doing make people to regard Nigeria as those who do not understand meaning in regard to grammar. Buhari stop putting Nigeria name as illiterate president who do not under grammar. MOGABE can help you with grammar where you do not understand. Why mogabe because if APC party and their leader go to school he will be correct. 2. I do not want to tell Nigerians to do so prison will not be ready for them. As they don’t need Nigerians to correct them.

    • Okafor

      If the witnesses are witnesses indeed, they will not need masks to tell Kanu I saw you do this or that. This is the fight time this is happening in Nigeria. Even I don’t think this happened during Awo’s treasonable felony case. Igbos rise up and say no!

      • I Hate Sycophant

        Ignorance is a disease, you can learn and try to thank me later.

        Hear what the Administration of Criminal Justice Act signed and sealed by
        GEJ and clear your ignorance according to section 232 of the ACJA

        1.
        A trial in the offences referred to in subsection (4)
        of this section may not, where the court so determined, be held in an open
        court.

        2.
        The names, address, telephone numbers of the victim of
        such offences or witness shall not be disclosed in any record of the
        proceedings and it shall be sufficient to designate the name of the victims or
        witnesses with a combination of alphabets.

        3.
        Where in any proceeding the court deems it necessary to
        protect the identity of the victim or a witness the court may take any or all
        of the following measures:

        a)
        Receive evidence by video link.

        b)
        permit the witness to be screened or masked.

        c)
        receive written deposition of expert evidence.

        d)
        any other measure that the court considers appropriate
        in the circumstance.

        4.
        The provision of this section shall apply to

        a)
        Offences under section 231 of this Act;

        b)
        Offences under Terrorism (Prevention)
        (Amendment) Act;

        c)
        Offences relating to Economic and Financial
        crimes;

        d)
        Trafficking in Persons and related offences; and

        e)
        Any other offence in respect of which an Act of
        National Assembly.

      • Otile

        The whole thing is despicable. See how the idiots_are dragging Nigeria to shame. Yes, mask the devil so that nobody can see his face. Let’s be careful here, the masked Islamist might be wearing explosives, who knows. These people have a lot to hide. Buharis himself is an Islamist and such practices are allowed in his religion.

  • Burning Spear

    There is the danger in this country today because when someone goes to the dock, the next thing is prison. What differentiates human beings from animals is the rule of law. Both parties and sides must be heard. God did not condemn, God did not convict, God did not sentence Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden without hearing them. The danger of Nigerians wanting any person just to be convicted is that if it is Mr A today, it could be Mr B tomorrow. So we have to be careful.

  • thechange

    Burning spear or deri obuka or whatever ur name is. This country has a constitution that is interpreted by the courts. You cannot praise the courts when they gave victory to wike, udom emmanuel n company and be accusing the same court process in this case. Please get someone in ur family (if there is) who is reasonable enough and with a knowledge of the law to explain what treason is. Your God-Nnamdi Kanu threatened to wipe out a particular ethnic group, his utterances are far more than what some people made during the Rwandan genocide n they were tried at the ICJ. Let the law have its course please, if the law says hes innocent so be it , if not tough luck . Right now ur God is an “enemy of the state” and must be treated as such.