Thursday, 7 April 2022

Court Bars Journalists From Covering Secret Trials Of Alleged Boko Haram Sponsors, Nnamdi Kanu


 


The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has released a new practice direction for the trial of terrorism cases before the Court.


The cases of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, bureau de change operators indicted over sponsorship of terrorism, and Boko Haram suspects are currently before the court.


Justice Tsoho said the new practice direction is in the exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).


Under the new arrangement, the court said media coverage of proceedings is strictly prohibited, “save as may be directed by the court.”


“A person who contravenes an order or direction made under these practice directions shall be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended),” the direction states.


It further reads that “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.”


He said in any proceedings the court deems necessary to ensure the safety and or to protect the identity of the victim or witness, may hold its proceedings at any place to be designated by the chief judge with the Code of Conduct Tribunal as the venue for the time being.


“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.”


The court listed other procedures to include evidence by video link; permit the witness to be screened or masked; receive written depositions of expert witnesses, and direct that all or any part of the proceedings of the court shall not be published in any manner.


Full Details 


*PRESS RELEASE*


*Federal High Court Issues Practice Directions On Trial of Terrorism Cases.*


The Federal High Court of Nigeria 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 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


*How the Practice Directions Apply:*

In Order 1 relates to applicability of terrorism related suits that are before the Federal High Court. 

According to the law;


•The perimeters of the Court sitting over a terrorism trial shall be secured for the period of the trial for 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.


*COURTROOM PROCEEDINGS*

The new Practice Directions stipulate 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;


°Receive evidence by video link;


°Permit the witness to be screened or masked;


°Receive written depositions of expert witnesses;


°Direct that all or any part of the proceedings of the Court shall not be published in any manner;


°Exclude from the proceedings any person other than the parties and their legal representatives;


°Make order as to any electronic devices that would be allowed during proceeding


°Make order on any other measure that the Court considers appropriate in the circumstances.


*COVERAGE OF PROCEEDINGS*

The coverage of proceedings under these Practice Directions is strictly prohibited, save as may be directed by the Court.

A person who contravenes an order or direction made under these Practice Directions shall be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended).


*CITATION*

These Practice Directions shall be cited as the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022.


*COMMENCEMENT*

 These Practice Directions take immediate effect.


Read the full Practice Directions Below:


 

*FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA*



*FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA*



*PRACTICE DIRECTIONS (ON TRIAL OF TERRORISM CASES) 2022*


*PREAMBLE*

In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I, John Terhemba Tsoho, The Honourable, The Chief Judge, Federal High Court of Nigeria, hereby make the following Practice Directions:


*ORDER 1*

*APPLICABILITY*

1. These Practice Directions shall, save to the extent as may be otherwise directed by The Honourable, The Chief Judge, apply to all trials of cases under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended) before the Federal High Court sitting anywhere in Nigeria.


*ORDER 11*

*DIRECTIONS ON TRIAL PROCEEDINGS*

1. Perimeters of the Court

(a) The perimeters of the Court sitting over a terrorism trial shall be secured for the period of the trial for safety of litigants and Court officials.

(b) 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.

(c) 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

2. Premises of the Court:

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.



*ORDER 111*

*COURTROOM PROCEEDINGS*

1. 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.


2. 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.


3. 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:


a). 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;


b). Receive evidence by video link;


c). Permit the witness to be screened or masked;


d). Receive written depositions of expert witnesses;


e). Direct that all or any part of the proceedings of the Court shall not be published in any manner; 


f). Exclude from the proceedings any person other than the parties and their legal representatives;


g). Make order as to any electronic devices that would be allowed during proceedings;


h). Make order on any other measure that the Court considers appropriate in the circumstances.


*ORDER IV*

*COVERAGE OF PROCEEDINGS*


1. Coverage of proceedings under these Practice Directions is strictly prohibited, save as may be directed by the Court.


2. A person who contravenes an order or direction made under these Practice Directions shall be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended).


*CITATION*

These Practice Directions shall be cited as the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022.


*COMMENCEMENT*

These Practice Directions take immediate effect.


Dated this 5th day of April 2022

Hon. Justice John Terhemba Tsoho (FICMC)

Chief Judge

Federal High Court of Nigeria



*EXPLANATORY NOTE*

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.


*Catherine Oby Christopher  PhD*

*Chief Information Officer*

*Federal High Court of Nigeria*

*Abuja.*


April 7, 2022





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