The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and his co-accused, David Nwawusi and Benjamin Madubugwu, have yet lost their bid to stay proceedings in their ongoing trial.
Kanu’s lawyer, Chucks Muoma (SAN), had asked the court to stay proceedings, pending an application filed by his client at a higher court.
The appeal filed at the higher court challenged a former ruling of the court on the protection of witnesses in Kanu’s ongoing trial.
But a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed the application.
Justice James Tsoho ruled that the application for stay of proceedings lacked merit and ordered that the trial would proceed in the mode earlier directed by the court.
Kanu and his co-defendants are being prosecuted before the court on six counts of treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and other offences bordering on their agitation for secession of the Republic of Biafra from Nigeria.
In dismissing the defendants’ application, Justice Tsoho relied on provisions of section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which prohibits courts from entertaining motions for stay of proceedings with respect to criminal cases.
Contrary to the contention by the defendants’ lawyer, Muoma, Justice Tsoho held that the provision of section 306 of ACJ Act could not deny an accused person fair hearing or right of appeal guaranteed an aggrieved party in a criminal case in section 241 of the Constitution.
The Judge held that rather, the provision of the ACJ Act was to enhance the right to speedy trial guaranteed an accused person in the Constitution.
“Section 306 of ACJA removes hitches to speedy trial which is component of fair hearing,” Justice Tsoho ruled.
On Monday IPOB had accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, led Federal Government, Department of State Services, DSS, and Attorney General of Nigeria Federation of deliberately frustrating the trial of its leader and Director of Radio Biafra.
This was after the case was postponed till May 5 because court reportedly didn’t bring Kanu’s case file to court.
A three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court led by Justice Abdul Aboki adjourned the matter after it was discovered that it was not listed for hearing in the court’s cause list yesterday.
Kanu’s lawyer, Muoma, said that it was the appellate court itself that originally fixed April 25 to hear the matter.
Justice Aboki then promised that the court would look into the matter on the next adjourned date.
Chuks Muoma expressed his disappointment by telling the presiding Judge he was surprised to hear that the case is not due for hearing after it was fixed for Monday, April 25.