We the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) worldwide note with dismay the increasing slide of the Nigerian judiciary into the abyss of perversion of the course of justice and criminal conspiracy in matters relating to our great movement at the various law courts up and down the country. The latest installment in this judicial comedy of errors is the case of the missing file of our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu at the appellate court in Abuja. Never in the history of Nigeria has it been reported that a case file of such magnitude has gone missing on the day an overdue judgment was meant to be delivered on the matter.
This very matter, Appeal Case No CA/A/78A/C/2018 which is a legal action against the decision of Justice John Tsoho to reverse himself on an earlier ruling he made rejecting masked witnesses when he was the presiding judge before the matter was transferred to Justice Binta Nyako is over a year old contrary to the law. 13th of February 2018 is the day Appeal Court of Nigeria agreed, after much protestation from IPOB lawyers and in direct contravention of a key constitutional provision, to deliver it’s long overdue judgment in the matter of Nnamdi Kanu vs Justice John Tsoho.
On getting to court, instead of the usual adjournment that characterizes IPOB cases in Nigeria and ECOWAS courts, the panel of judges announced, to the dismay of the court and assembled press, that the file is not before them. Not minding that this was a high profile matter already outside the constitutionally guaranteed 3 months maximum for delivery of judgment, the lead judge announced that the matter cannot proceed without the case file.
But the question we are asking is this; what happened to the decision of the initial panel that heard the case on the 8th March 2017 considering that Appeal Court of Nigeria is a supposedly competent court of records? Where is the copy of their judgment, because judges must have a copy of their judgment in their own personal files? Assuming and for the purposes of the benefit of the doubt that Kanu’s file is missing, how about the judgment written by the panel of judges that heard the matter on the 8th of March 2017 which they were meant to deliver on the 8th of June 2017 at the very latest as guaranteed by law?
Does it mean Nigerian courts don’t keep records of their judgments or are we to assume that Appeal Court judges are ignorant of the Nigerian Constitution to the extent that they are unaware that the statutory limit on the delivery of all Appeal Court judgments is 90 days? Why wasn’t judgment in this matter delivered within the constitutionally guaranteed 90 days which is 8 June 2017? What this case is telling the world is that Nigerian Appeal Court judges do not obey the constitution of Nigeria they are supposed to interpret and uphold.
We view this ugly development as a desperate conspiratorial move to deny long overdue justice for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB by Nigerian judicial officers on the orders of the Nigerian presidency.
It should be noted that a formal communication was filed with the offices of Deputy Chief Registrar of Court of Appeal Abuja Division, by Nnamdi Kanu’s legal team led by Bar Ifeanyi Ejiofor, at the expiration of 90days mandatory statutory period provided under Section 294(1) of the Constitution for a court to deliver it’s judgement in writing upon the adoption of the final written submission.
Ostensibly acting on this request, the matter was listed on the 24th day of January 2018 for judgment a full 7 months outside the time frame stipulated by law. On the said date 24 January 2018 and upon the introduction of the case by Kanu’s lawyer, the Justices promptly referred the case file back yet again to the Deputy Chief Registrar, for onward transmission to the Presiding Judge of the panel that heard the matter on 8 March 2017 for necessary action to be taken, and accordingly this panel of the 24th of January 2018 refrained from proceeding with the case.
Further Hearing Notice was served on Kanu’s lawyers on the 6th day of February 2018 against the hearing on the 12th of February 2018. On getting to the court again on February 12th, the Justices of Court of Appeal declared the original case file transmitted to the Appellate court as missing. Implicit in the above declaration is that Nnamdi Kanu’s case file is now missing in the court of Appeal, therefore, the matter cannot continue until the file is located. What this means in effect is that this matter has to start all over again despite the fact that the original judgment written by the initial panel that heard the matter on the 8th of March 2017 is yet to be delivered.
Our humble request to the President of the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC), President of the Appeal Court of Nigeria and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) is to recall the original panel of judges that heard the matter on the 8th of March 2017 to deliver their judgment as required by the Nigerian Constitution. We know judgment was entered by the original panel that heard the case on the 8th of March 2017, all we are asking for is that judgment be delivered. There is no need for another panel to hear the case again when those judges that heard the matter before is still alive.
It will be a travesty of justice to appoint an entirely new Panel of Justices of Court of Appeal to handle this case when those that handled it before are still alive but frightened to deliver their judgment themselves. The world must note that this matter has yet again been adjourned to the 20th day of February 2018 for another readoption. How many times will this same case be adjourned and adopted at the same Court of Appeal in Abuja? What sort of legal system will allow this travesty in a supposed democracy? This is the highest form of judicial conspiracy.
We, along with our legal team have sworn to get to its logical conclusion even if it will entail some judicial officers or any other actors sacrificing their jobs on account of this strange happening.
Mazi Chika Edoziem
Head of Directorate of State (HDoS) Indigenous People Of Biafra