ABUJA— Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Federal High Court Division, Abuja, has slated April 25th, 2017 to deliver the ruling on the new application filed by Nnamdi Kanu’s defense counsel for the variation of the order of the court to protect witnesses coming to testify against him and the other three defendants.
Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who had vehemently opposed the protection of security operatives coming to testify against his client during the last court session in February, asked the court to set aside the order it made on December 13, 2016, as the new charges the defendants are facing no longer require any form of secrecy.
According to Ejiofor, “My Lord, we filed an application on the 22nd of March, 2017. In support of this application, is a nine paragraph affidavit, and a written address dated 16th March 2017 was also filed. We plead that this honorable court should review the order made on the 13th day of December 2017.”
Other defense lawyers of the other three accused persons namely; Barristers Inalegwu Adoga, E.I Eseme and Chukwuma Ozougwu(standing in for Maxwell Okpara), all adopted the application filed for the variation on the protection of witnesses’ order.
They all argued that having been acquitted of the charges of terrorism and importation of weapons, the defendants cannot be tried with the identities of witnesses hidden based on section 36(6) of the 1999 Constitution.
According to Barrister Ozougwu, “My lord, we are relying on this application to urge you to grant the application to review and set aside the orders of this honorable court made on the 13th day of December 2016 on secret trial.”
Also speaking, Barrister Innocent E Eseme, lawyer to the third defendant said; “My lord, in the two sections mentioned, it is stated clearly that none of the defendants committed crimes such to undergo secret trial.
“Section 36(4) of the 1999 constitution, describes the mode of trial for all cases to be a public trial. The law does not give you the right to even talk about a secret trial. Terrorism is no more part of this case, as you struck it out my lord, hence there is no room for a secret trial.
“All parties including the Prosecutor and the defendants, are equal before the Court and they must be treated the same way. My Lord, any attempt to conduct a secret trial, is totally an injustice.”
However, the FG’s Prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran in a counter affidavit urged the court to dismiss the application, alleging that it lacks merit and a deliberate ploy to delay the defenfants’ trial.
He said; “My Lord, having gone through the application filed by the defendants, we found out that it has no difference with the previous ones filed.
“We hereby plead that the Court should refuse the counter affidavit before the court. We also demand that my lord should dismiss the application because it does not just lack merit, but is frivolous in nature and a ploy to delay this matter.”
Adjourning the case till 25th April 2017, the trial judge who expressed dissatisfaction at the continuous filing of applications said; “this filing of new applications by the defending counsels is delaying this case. I might get angry and keep adjourning this case if this continues like this.”
Cynthia Anyikwa and Ejike Ofoegbu Reporting
For Biafra Writers