Rejects secret trial, disrupts proceedings as court adjourns till January 10, 2017
There was tension at the Headquarters of the Federal high court in Abuja on Tuesday as leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mr Nnamdi Kanu went uncontrollable to protest the ruling of the high court which allowed the Federal Government to shield its witnesses from the public for security reasons.
Kanu who was visibly angry over the ruling handed down by Justice Binta Murtala Nyarko said the Nigerian government accused him in the public and must be tried in the public, vowing that there would be no Nigeria again after he must have concluded his testimony in court.
He did not hint the court or anybody the nature of the testimony that he would render in court and how the testimony would break Nigeria into pieces.
Two other persons charged alongside Kanu also became uncontrollable in court on Tuesday over what they called endorsement of their secret trial even as they all vowed to contest the ruling of the court at the Court of Appeal.
All explanations by the trial judge that her ruling did not amount to secret trial meant nothing to them.
The trial of Kanu, Bar and Bench Watch can report authoritatively is beginning to take the shape and form of the trial of leader of Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NPDF), Mujahid Asari Dokuboh during the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo before the same Federal high court during which Asari would hijack proceedings from the trial judge when rejecting rulings of the court instead of through applications by his lawyers.
Bar and Bench Watch recalls an occasion when Asari attempted to snatch rifles from security men in court to attack the judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi.
Kanu though was not as violent on Tuesday as Dokubo on the day he attempted to snatch rifles, however, his uncontrollable behaviour began the way Kanu started his own on Tuesday.
The court was peaceful before the ruling was read on Tuesday.
The Federal Government at the last adjourned date had requested for protection of its witnesses by shielding them from public glare while giving evidence.
But Kanu and the two other defendants had opposed the application.
Justice Binta Murtala Nyako however overruled Kanu and others.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Binta said the court would allow the witnesses some degree of protection.
“The counsel and the defendants will see the witnesses. The witnesses will have special entrances to and outside the court,” the judge said.
Justice Nyako also said the court would allow the witnesses to be shielded with screen-guards.
She said the court would set aside two days for rehearsals on how the witnesses will come into the court and depart from the court.
After the ruling was given, Mr. Kanu said he would not allow himself to be given a secret trial in any way.
Raising his voice, Mr. Kanu said anything short of a public trial would not be allowed.
Mr. Kanu’s lawyer, Chux Muoma, warned his client to allow the counsel he employed to do his job without undue interference in court.
“Sit down! I am your counsel let me talk. I have not come all the way here to allow you speak for me in court,” said Mr. Muoma.
Muoma apologised to the court afterwards.
Counsel to the other defendants said they would make a formal application against the judgement.
They said they were opposed to the ruling of the court.
Shortly after, the defendants began to clamour for an opportunity to speak to their lawyers.
The judge warned the defendants to desist from making her court rowdy.
The judge said her ruling did not imply that the trial would be conducted in secret.
“It is not going to be a secret trial. The court will allow the defendants see the witnesses. The defendant counsel will also see the witnesses,” said Mrs. Nyako.
The defendants challenged that position again, daring the judge.
“If you don’t stop talking in my court, I will assume you are becoming a nuisance in my court. And if I assume so, I will continue this trial in your absence, so do not try my patience,” she said.
“When you are in my court, you will do what I want. It’s like having a visitor in your house; you can serve the visitor food but if he wants to eat he will eat and if he doesn’t want to, he will not.”
After a brief recess, Mr. Kanu began to speak again.
“I will address this court! You cannot be killing my people and tell me that you will make me have a secret trial. That won’t happen!
“The president can intimidate the judges, but he cannot do that to me. Tell him he has lied,” said Mr. Kanu.
The other defendants soon joined in the voice of opposition against the court’s ruling and the session became rowdy.
The court clerks then told the people present in court that the session was over and that the matter would not continue again on Tuesday.
Outside the court, the IPOB supporters clashed with the security operatives while the latter tried to return Mr. Kanu and the other defendants to the vehicle that had brought them.
They kept shouting chants in support of the Biafran State, after the vehicles carrying the defendants zoomed off on top speed.