The Hon. Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, born 24th of June 1959, must hands-off Nnamdi Kanu’s case as the trial Judge. In addition, he must turn-in his resignation in order to prevent unavoidable dismissal by the National Judicial Council (NJC). Already, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), The Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has sounded a note of warning to Judges like Hon. John Tsoho that they shall be punished for their judicial somersaults and miscarriage of justice. Based on available evidence and facts related to the ongoing court case involving the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, we believe that the most honourable thing for Hon. Justice John Tsoho to do is to excuse himself from the case as the trial Judge as well as turn-in his resignation to avoid being axed for impropriety on the job.
We recall that on January 29, 2016, Hon. Justice John Tsoho in his first ruling denied bail application made by Nnamdi Knau’s lawyers and the denial was based on three frivolous reasons which were:
1) That Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was a threat to national security.
2) That if released, Nnamdi Kanu might commit the same offence again.
3) That there was a probability that Nnamdi Kanu might jump bail because he possessed dual citizenship.
On the 9th of February 2016, Hon. Justice John Tsoho ruled that items belonging to Nnamdi Kanu should not be returned to him even when such items were not listed as part of the exhibits in the case and this ruling runs contrary to sectio-10(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) of 2015. Part of the items being requested to be released to Nnamdi Kanu were cash in sums of $2,200 & N87,000 and his two International passports (British and Nigerian). We should also keep in mind that at this time, Nammdi Kanu was already remanded in Kuje prison and we are wondering why Hon. Justice John Tsoho will not release the non-listed items to someone in prison custody.
On the 19th of February 2016, the Hon. Justice John Tsoho in his ruling, dismissed prayers by the DSS lawyer to hide the identities of prosecution witnesses for which the DSS lawyer wants to enforce under section-232(3) of ACJA-2015. This ruling was welcomed by all and seen as a sound judgment based on correct interpretations of the law especially section-36(4) of the Constitution and section-232(4) of ACJA-2015 which correctly specified and streamlined the conditions for which section-232(3) should be applied.
Surprisingly on the 7th of March 2016, instead of the Hon. Justice John Tsoho to apply section-351(1) of ACJA-2015 which specifies the dismissal of the case for non-appearance of prosecution witnesses, he unilaterally and without an appeal from DSS lawyer reversed his judgment of February 19, 2016, thereby making it possible for DSS witnesses to testify with masks or as masquerades. When questioned by the defense counsel as to why he changed his mind without directing DSS to appeal to a superior court, the Hon. Justice John Tsoho lied that he was merely clarifying his ruling when in actual fact the said relief he was referring to never made mention of testifying behind a screen. When the Hon. Justice John Tsoho realized that he lied in his own court, he deliberately withheld the rulings because he knew he would be exposed and that he cannot alter a judgement he pronounced publicly in a court of law. We wonder what fellow 1984 University of Lagos law graduates will be thinking of Justice Tsoho and his judicial acrobatics.
In the meantime, on the 9th of February 2016, Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyers applied for Certified True Copy of Justice Tsoho’s judgment of January 29, 2016. Also, application for Certified True Copies of the last two rulings mentioned above were made on the 8th day of March 2016. We would like to remind everyone that in the Nigerian Constitution, section-36(7) allows only seven (7) days for the Court to keep judgments/rulings after which the judgments/rulings must be made available to the accused person. However, it is on record that the Certified True Copies of the three aforementioned rulings were made available to Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyers after a formal complaint was sent to the office of the Hon. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. The formal compliant was sent on April 11, 2016 and the three Certified True Copies were released to Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyers on April 25, 2016.
In other words the Certified True Copies were released:
(1) two months and fifteen days after the ruling of February 9, 2016,
(2) two months and six days after the ruling of February 19, 2016, and
(3) one month and 18 days after the ruling of March 7, 2016. All of these are in contravention of section-36(b) and section-36(7) of the Constitution of Nigeria. In addition, Justice Tsoho dismissed Nnamdi Kanu’s application for stay of proceedings within 24 hours of obtaining the excessively delayed documents mentioned above.
From the foregoings, it is crystal clear that the Hon. Justice John Tsoho lacks the moral, ethical, and judicial burden to continue as the trial Judge on this case. As a public officer identified in the Fifth Schedule Part-II(5) of the Constitution, the Hon. John Tsoho has violated his Judicial Oath, he has violated section-36(7) of the Constitution and he has violated the Fifth Schedule Part-I(9) of the Constitution he swore to uphold at all times. We therefore urge the Hon. John Tsoho to hands-off the case of Nnamdi Kanu and immediately tender his resignation to the Hon. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in order to avoid his impending dismissal.
We call upon the Hon. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to transfer Nnamdi Kanu’s case to another Judge of the caliber of the sagacious and fearless Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola so as to salvage what remains of the battered image of the Nigerian Judiciary.
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu looks forward to battling the DSS in court under an unbiased trial Judge and we are confident that victory shall be that of Nnamdi Kanu’s.
Barrister Emma Nmezu
Dr. Clifford Chukwuemeka Iroanya
Spokespersons for IPOB