A federal High Court judge has excused himself from hearing treason charges brought by the government against Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
Federal judge, Ahmed Mohammed announced the decision on Wednesday in Abuja after Mr. Kanu objected to the case, saying it was needless, as the federal government has repeatedly disobeyed previous court rulings. The government is accusing Mr. Kanu of plotting to split Nigeria, by creating a Biafra Republic with south east, south south states, and parts of Kogi and Benue states, as component units.
Mr. Kanu, who was arraigned before Justice Mohammed Wednesday, told the court before commencement of the prosecution’s plea that he preferred being held in detention than subjecting himself to a trial, which outcome will not be respected. He said his previous trials had various outcomes that were abused or neglected by the State Security Service. Mr. Kanu therefore stated his outright objection to the trial in the court.
Kanu during court hearing argued that the hearing will be an exercise in futility as officials of the Department of State Security will not obey any order in his favor.
“Thank you very much my lordship, but my objection is that I will not receive a fair trial before this court. The information I got is that I will not receive a fair trial before this court. I will not sacrifice the due process of law because of speedy court process over the principle of natural process on the altar of speedy release. In other words, I would rather remain in detention than subject myself to a trial that I know amounts to perversion of justice. Your lordship, previous court rulings have been given by courts of competent jurisdiction in this country, Nigeria which were not carried out by the DSS”he said
The counsel to the prosecution, who is also the Federal Director of Prosecution, office of the Attorney General, Mohamed Diri, told the court that based on section 396 (2) of the constitution, the defendant had no right to object to being tried by the court until after the plea is heard.
But the judge said he was standing down from the case, saying Mr. Kanu had the right to reject the trial, “after all justice is rooted on confidence”. “If any of the parties has no confidence in the court, he has the right to say so”, Mr. Mohammed ruled. He noted that the prosecution would have done the same thing if they were in Kanu’s shoes. “Assuming it was the prosecution, if they had no confidence in the court of jurisdiction; would they not have done so?” “I hereby remit the case file to the honourable chief judge of this court to reassign it,” the judge said