A new twist has been added to the trial of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu as Justice John Tsoho of a Federal High Court, Abuja has disqualified himself from further hearing of the matter.
In disqualifying himself from further handling of the case, Justice said: “I have disqualified myself from sitting over this case, thereby the case file shall be transferred to the office of the chief justice of the Federal High Court.
In his ruling, Monday, Tsoho said he deemed it unnecessary to allow the continued prosecution of the case by the Director of Public Prosecution or to make any further response on the case.
Tsoho’s self disqualification followed Kanu’s counsel, Chuks Muoma submission that a petition against Justice Tsoho was before the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The petition sent to NJC by Kanu queried the Judge’s conflicting ruling on an application by the DSS to conduct a secret trial for him (Kanu).
After listening to the defendant’s counsel, the Judge said ordinarily the next procedure would have been to wait for the response of the NJC before any further action because he does not to preempt the decision of the judicial council.
However, he stated he would no longer want to preside over the case, no matter the decision of NJC, stating that the essence of justice is based on confidence in the court by all parties involved.
Justice Tsoho ruled that since the defence counsel noted lack of confidence in the way the court is handling the case, “it is only reasonable this court recuses itself from further hearing the matter.
“Accordingly, this case is hereby forwarded to the Chief Judge for further re-assignment”, the Judge rueled
“This court is minded not to prolong the issue, especially since they (the defence team) did not state which court it wants the matter to handle its case,” Tsoho said.
“I have disqualified myself from sitting over this case, thereby the case file shall be transferred to the office of the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court.
“This shall be the position of this court even if the NJC decides otherwise,” Tsoho concluded.
The Federal Government through the DSS had put Kanu and two others on trial since 2015, accusing them of treasonable felony, mismanagement of an unlawful society and concealing of goods in a container.
Three different courts had on three occasions squashed all cases – including terrorism – against him and two others, David Nwawuisi and Benjamin Madubugwu.
However, in July this year, a fresh motion seeking to disqualify Justice John Tsoho from presiding over the trial was sought by the defence team.
The motion stated that a formal complaint letter had been sent to the National Judicial Council (NJC) with exhibits marked, NJ1 and NJ2, illustrating manifest cases of bias in the conduct of the trial and other issues that were inappropriate to be mentioned in the affidavit.
The motion also stated that the Court had in the course of its ruling delivered on April 26, openly expressed serious prejudice against a member of the defence team.
The trial was then adjourned till September 26, for hearing of the motion as well as continuation of trial.
But when it came up on Monday Justice Tsoho refused to continue with the trial, rather he stood down from case.