ABUJA—The detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and two other pro-Biafra agitators, David Nwawusi and Benjamin Madubugwu, have dragged the judge handling their trial, Justice John Tsoho, before the National Judicial Council, NJC.
The trio who are answering to a six-count treason charge before the Federal High Court in Abuja, accused the judge of “misconduct and manifest bias”.
Sequel to the petition dated April 26 and an accompanied verifying affidavit on oath, dated May 24, the defendants, on Monday, asked Justice Tsoho to temporarily hands-off their case.
They filed the motion on a day the Federal Government maintained that its witnesses were in court and ready to testify against Kanu and others.
A lawyer from office of the Department of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. M. S. Labaran, while acknowledging the petition pending before the NJC, however alleged plot by the defendants to scuttle their trial.
“My lord, our witnesses are available, but the prosecution was confronted this morning with a fresh motion from the defendants. Even from the face of the motion, there is a clear indication that the defendants are out to truncate the proceedings of this court”, Labaran submitted.
He said there was need for the prosecution to react to some of the issues Kanu and the others raised before the Council.
Meantime, in the motion they filed pursuant to section C Rule 1(A) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers and section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the defendants applied for an order disqualifying Justice Tsoho from further proceedings in the matter.
According to them, “There is a manifest case of bias against the court, which complaint is also a subject of scrutiny by the NJC, currently probing the allegations of misconduct and manifest bias against the court in charge No: FHC/CR/383/2015.
“That by virtue of the aforesaid scrutiny, this court’s impartiality in further proceedings in this charge shall be reasonably questioned”.
In an eight-paragraphed supporting affidavit deposed by one Ayoola Emmanuel, the defendants, told the court that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who is the head of the NJC, formally acknowledged receipt of their petition vide a letter with Ref. No. NJC/F.3/FHC.8/1/116A.
They argued that “following the present action by the NJC, it will only be tidy and most honourable that the court disqualified itself forthwith from further proceedings in the matter.