In an unexpected twist of events, the prosecuting counsel of the Department of Security Services [DSS] is seeking to try the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra [IPOB], Mr. Nnamdi Kanu in secret.
The government lawyer, Mr. David Kaswe, prayed trial Justice John Tsoho to issue an order protecting the identities of the witnesses by allowing them to either wear facial mask or to testify behind screens. Kanu’s, through his lead counsel, Chief Chuks Muoma, SAN, vehemently opposed the application which he said grossly lacked merit.
Kanu, through his lead counsel, Chief Chuks Muoma, SAN, vehemently opposed the application, saying it grossly lacks merit.
Feelings of uneasiness hit the air ab initio when as at 10am the defendant Nnamdi Kanu was not yet brought to Court.
The counsel of the prosecutor argued that the hearing of the case can take place, devoid of the appearance of the defendant. The Counsel for the defendant nodded the proceedings, without the presence of the defendant.
The prosecutor Counsel for Nigeria Government argued that the counter of the defence over a secret trial shouldn’t be accepted by Justice John Tsoho in charge of the trial but Muoma argued that the counter affidavit, still stands and that a secret trial must not be granted.
The prosecuting counsel stated that, the secret trial should be considered by the Judge, since the witnesses are civilians living in same the geographical entity of Nigeria tagged “Biafra” and that there are recorded cases of violence by the Indigenous People Of Biafra [IPOB].
He added that the witnesses categorically informed them, that if they can be guaranteed some form of protection by the Court, they are unwilling to come and testify as they are already scared.
SAN Chucks Muoma, counsel to the defendant Citizen Nnamdi Kanu, countered it, saying that the counsel of the prosecutor cannot talk about what he did not file into his former case file and if the Press in Nigeria is something to rely on, the Court will be convinced that it’s the other way round.
The Indigenous People of Biafra have been killed by the Nigeria government, thus the case should be an open one, he maintained.
The Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and other defendants were finally brought to Court in the midst of the hearing.
Meanwhile, Kanu, through his lead counsel, Chief Chuks Muoma, SAN, vehemently opposed the application which he said grossly lacked merit.
He argued that section 36(4) of the 1999 constitution made no provision for masquerades to testify in a trial involving an alleged act of treason.
“An accused person under our jurisprudence and justice administration must be confronted with his accusers eye-ball to eye-ball.
“My lord we operate an accusatorial system of procedure under the common law. Justice must not only be done but must be seen to have been done.
“It is not within common sense to malign and accuse someone in public and apply to try him in the bedroom. Having been accused in public we want to also be tried in public.
“We therefore urge this court not to allow masquerades to testify before it. We want to see their faces and ask them questions.
“As masquerades, how will the court be able to gauge their demeanour and body language? Is it by the rhythm of their dance steps?
“The tenets of justice outweigh this application and we urge my lord to reject it. It has no merit whatsoever. Secret trial is for terrorism charge, it is not for the type of offence for which these defendants were charged.
“Secret trial does not apply in a case of treasonable felony or involvement in alleged unlawful society. During the trial we will prove to them that we are not an illegal organisation”, Muoma added.
He stated that even our traditional Justice calls it an abomination, i.e. to accuse someone in public and then try him secretly.
“If you talk about the safety of the witnesses, what about the safety of the counsels?” SAN Muoma argued.
After listening to the parties, Justice Tsoho stood down ruling on the matter till 2pm, telling the Court that he intend to have a ruling today.
San Chucks Muoma said that they want to see the faces of the prosecution witnesses, so that they can see the way the witnesses twitch their faces and their body movement as well.
He said if you want to kill a rabbit, kill him the way you killed others.
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