There was drama at a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, December 23, when Nnamdi Kanu, the director of Radio Biafra and a leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) made an objection in court.
But instead of answering the clerk’s question, Kanu began by saying he has an objection to make. His counsel, Vincent Obetta, in his advice urged his client to wait for the case to be fully mentioned before any further objection. After the clerk was done with calling of the case and the accused person, the judge, A. R. Mohammed, said: “It will be good to appreciate and take into consideration the objection raised by the defendant.”
At the judge’s permission, Nnamdi Kanu went further with his objection. He said: “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.” The prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Diri, having heard the objections of the defendant said: “First, he objects trial by your lordship because he believes he is not going to get fair trail. Two, he said, the trial before your lordship will amount to perversion of justice.
“He said the rule of the law is clear and that the defendant may object to his trial at any time. “Your lordship before the defendant can object to his trial, he has to file an application objecting his trial before this court.” He said in that application the defendant is expected to exhibit special evidences why he should not be tried by a particular court. Diri said that this will enable the court and the prosecutors to properly reply to the defendant.
“And this has not been done in this case,” he added. Quoting section 396 sub section of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, Diri said an objection trial may be raised by the defendant only after the plea of the defendant is taken, but not before. Diri said: “My lordship, what the defendant just did is putting the cart before the horse.”
He further urged the court to overrule the objection of the first defendant and order that the charges filed by the prosecution before the court be read to the three defendants for the purpose of taking their plea. In his reply, the defending counsel said the argument by Diri is only an effort to puncture his client’s objection, adding that he is in tandem with the objection made by Kanu.
“We believe that whatever comes out of this court should be justice for the three parties – the state, the court and the accused persons,” Obetta said. But in his ruling, Mohammed said he sees nothing wrong in the defendant’s objection. Defining Kanu as someone who is learned and understands the legalities of his objection, Mohammed said the first defendant is not objecting the validity of the charges against him but on the confidence he has in the court. He added that there is nothing wrong with the defendant’s objection which he (the judge) said is in order.
Mohammed also said that he was standing down from the case as Kanu had the right to reject the trial, saying: “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.” He noted that the prosecution would have done the same thing if they were in Kanu’s shoes. Mohammed, therefore, said: “I therefore remit this case file to the chief judge of this court to take necessary action.”