Justice John Tsoho, the Chief Judge of the Federal High court yesterday issued a new practice directive that terrorism cases will now be held in camera henceforth.
According to the new directive, the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal shall be the new venue for terrorism cases within the Abuja division of the federal high court.
A source at the federal high court told Nairametrics that the new directive will take effect after today’s proceedings.
At the last adjourned date, Kanu’s counsel had argued on the application challenging the competence of the 15-count charge proffered against his client.
While Mr Kanu’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, asked the court to quash and dismiss the amended 15-count charge for lack of competence, S.M Labaran, counsel to the FG urged the court to direct Mr Kanu to open his case.
Today is slated for ruling on whether Nnamdi Kanu, will be discharged from the 15-count terrorism charge instituted against him by the federal government.
The new practice direction on terrorism cases
According to a press release by the Federal High Court of Nigeria on the matter, it wishes to notify the general public of its new Practice Directions on hearing of terrorism cases.
- “The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Honorable Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, in the exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers enabling him, hereby makes the following Practice Directions.
- “These Practice Directions seek to provide measures that will ensure the security and safety of parties; personnel of law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary; as well as members of the general public; while ensuring expeditious and fair trial of persons suspected of having committed acts of terrorism
- “The perimeters of the Court sitting over a terrorism trial shall be secured for the period of the trial for the safety of litigants and Court officials.
- “Distance and size of perimeters to be secured for the trial shall be determined based on the recommendation of security agencies on a case-by-case basis.
- “No person shall be allowed within the secured perimeters save the approved Court officials; parties and a number of pre-registered legal practitioners on either side, witnesses; and any other person as may be directed by the Judge or the most Senior Judge in the given circumstances.
Other measures put in place to guarantee the safety of Court officials and court users within the court premises include:
- “Only the Judges; other essential Court Staff and security agencies involved in the particular case and their vehicles shall have access to the Court premises.
For Courtroom proceedings, the new directive stipulates that;
- “Proceedings of offences of terrorism, subject to the provisions of section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 34 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended), shall be held in camera or as may be ordered by the Court.
- “The names, addresses, telephone numbers and identity of the victims of such offences or witnesses in the proceedings shall not be disclosed in any record or report of the proceedings and it shall be sufficient to designate the names of the victims or witnesses with a combination of alphabets.
- “In any proceedings where the Court deems it necessary to ensure the safety and/or protect the identity of the victim or a witness, it may take any or all of the following protective measures.
- “Hold its proceedings at any place to be designated by the Chief Judge and in the case of the Abuja Judicial Division, the venue for the time being, shall be the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”