As the Nigerian judiciary enters a new legal year, 2018/2019, attention will be on major political cases.
The 2018/2019 legal year commenced following two months’ vacation by the courts.
Some of the notable cases expected to attract attention in the new legal year are those involving Nnamdi Kanu, a separatist leader; ex-National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; and Olisa Metuh, a former spokesperson of the former ruling party, PDP.
Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, was arrested in 2015 and arraigned on allegations of treason and unlawful assembly among other offences.
His trial triggered widespread protests across the country, especially in parts of eastern Nigeria.
Mr Kanu was later released on bail in April, but was declared missing on September 14, after a military raid at his country home in Abia State.
While his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, has repeatedly blamed the Nigerian Army for Mr Kanu’s disappearance, the army claims the IPOB leader ran away.
IPOB members asked Nigerians from the South-east region to sit at home on September 14 in protest against what they described as Mr Kanu’s continued captivity.
The protest was successful in some South-east cities but failed in others.
Mr Ejiofor who has been asked to produce Mr Kanu in court, also reiterated the call for Mr Kanu’s release on September 14.
The case is expected to continue in October.
Olisa Metuh’s trial of over two years is also expected to dominate the papers, this legal year, for many reasons.
Mr Metuh was first arraigned in 2016. The trial has however witnessed dramatic court sessions, following the defendant’s spinal cord injury which the presiding judge, Okon Abang, believes the ex-spokesperson is using to forestall his case.
Mr Metuh’s trial attracted greater attention of the public when he appeared in court on a stretcher in February.
Attention will also be paid to the cases involving former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki in the 2018/2019 legal year. The former NSA has remained in detention, despite repeated court orders for his release.
Mr Dasuki was first arrested in 2015 following allegations he diverted $2.1 billion from office while serving as NSA. He is also facing trial for alleged possession of firearms.
His continued detention, despite the failure of government to appeal the judgments, has attracted widespread condemnation of Mr Buhari’s government, with legal experts describing government’s disobedience of court orders on Mr Dasuki as a slide to dictatorship and outright impunity.
The ongoing trial of the leader of the Shiite Islamic Movement, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in Kaduna State will also attract local and international attention in the new legal year.
Mr El-Zakzaky was first arrested after a clampdown on Shiites by the Nigerian army in December, 2015.
The violence resulted in the killing of over 300 Shiite members, in what has been condemned by local and international right groups.
Although Mr El-Zakzaky was granted bail in December 2016, he was neither released nor arraigned in court, till protests began in parts of the country by Shiite members, demanding his release.
He was latter arraigned in April for alleged murder.
The trial is expected to continue on October 4.
The ongoing trial of Abia State APC politician, Orji Kalu, will also attract attention for its protracted nature, haven lasted over 11 years since Mr Kalu was first arraigned in court.
Mr Kalu was first arraigned following allegations brought against him in 2007 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
After several amendments, Mr Kalu’s trial was adjusted in 2016 to include 34 counts, bordering on allegations of fraud while he was governor of Abia State.
A Federal High Court in Lagos slated September 20 and 21 for hearing on the matter.