The effort of the detained leader Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamadi Kanu and two other subordinates, David Nwawusi and Benjamin Madubugwu to avert verdict of the Federal High Court which they described as ‘strange procedure’ was abortive as the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal shunned out the appeal lodged before it by the defendants.
In a consolidated appeal, the applicants, who are answering to a six-count treason charge preferred against them by the federal government, alleged bias against the trial judge, John Tsoho, who not only declined to grant them bail, but also permitted the prosecution to shield the identity of eight witnesses billed to testify in the matter.
Justice Tsoho had equally rejected application praying him to discharge and acquit the three defendants in line with section 351(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
In a unanimous judgment delivered on Wednesday, a three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court led by Justice Abdul Aboki, dismissed the defendants’ appeal as “grossly lacking in merit” and refused ordering the release of the defendants on bail on the ground that allegations against them are “grievous and serious”.
Reading the lead judgment, Justice Aboki held that it was not in doubt that the first defendant, Kanu, has dual citizenship, stressing that Kanu’s possession of both Nigerian and British passports increased the likelihood that he could jump bail if released from detention.
On the procedure adopted by the trial court in the case, the appellate court panel maintained that Justice Tsoho had the discretion to decide how the proceeding should be conducted.
“The lower court has the power to exercise its discretion on the matter and the exercise of such discretion by the trial judge did not amount to denial of fair hearing to the defendants.
“The issues are resolved against the appellants. Ruling of the trial court is hereby upheld,” the appellate court ruled.