The Federal High Court of Nigeria has declared that the perimeters of the court sitting in a terrorism trial will now be secured for the duration of the trial for the safety of litigants and court officials.
The Federal High Court said so on Thursday in a directory called “Practice Directives On Trial of Terrorism Cases” obtained by SaharaReporters.
By this new directive, the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, the Honorable Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, further noted that “the distance and size of the perimeters to be secured for the trial will be determined on the basis of the recommendation from security agencies on a case-by-case basis.”
With the court sitting and due to rule on the detained leader of the indigenous people of Biafra, the Nigerian government’s trial of Nnamdi Kanu comes on Friday, April 8 and will be the first casualty of this new directive.
Kanu, whose hearings are usually watched by large numbers of supporters, activists and observers, will be in court again on Friday in a landmark court decision and the new directive may not be unrelated to his trial.
The Chief Justice further noted that “no one will be allowed to enter the secure perimeters, except licensed court officials; the parties and a number of pre-registered lawyers on each side, witnesses; and any other person who may be directed by the judge or most senior judge in the given circumstances. »
The guideline reads: “PRACTICE GUIDELINES (ON THE TRIAL OF TERRORISM CASES) 2022; PREAMBLE; In exercise of the powers vested in me by Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers vested in me in connection therewith, I, John Terhemba Tsoho, The Honorable Chief Justice, Federal High Judge Court of Nigeria, hereby issues the following Practice Directions:
“ORDER 1 – APPLICABILITY – 1. These Practice Directions apply, unless otherwise stated by the Honorable Chief Justice, to all trials under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2011 (as amended) before the Federal High Court sitting anywhere in Nigeria.
“ORDER 11 – GUIDELINES ON TRIAL PROCEDURE – 1. Court Perimeters; (a) Court perimeters sitting during a terrorism trial must be secured for the duration of the trial for the safety of litigants and court officials.
“(b) The distance and size of the perimeters to be secured for the trial will be determined based on the recommendation of the security agencies on a case-by-case basis. (c) No one is permitted to enter the Secured Perimeters except authorized Court officials; the parties and a number of pre-registered lawyers on each side, witnesses; and any other person who may be directed by the judge or 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 case in question and their vehicles have access to Court premises.
“ORDER 111 – HEARING PROCEEDINGS – 1. Proceedings relating to terrorism offences, subject to the provisions of section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and section 34 of the Prevention of Terrorism 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 these offenses or of the witnesses in the proceedings must not be disclosed in any minutes or report of the proceedings and it is sufficient to designate the names of the victims or witnesses by a combination of alphabets.
“3. In any proceedings where the Court deems it necessary to ensure the security and/or protect the identity of the victim or a witness, it may take any or all of the following protective measures: a). proceedings at any location designated by the Chief Justice and in the case of the Abuja Judicial Division, the venue for the time being shall be the premises of the Code of Conduct Court; b) Receive evidence by video link ;
vs). Allow the cookie to be filtered or hidden; D). Receive written depositions from expert witnesses; e). Order that all or part of the proceedings of the Court not be published in any way; F). Exclude from the proceedings any person other than the parties and their legal representatives; g). Order any electronic device that would be authorized during the procedure; h). Order any other measure that the Court deems appropriate in the circumstances.
“ORDER IV – COVERAGE OF PROCEEDINGS – 1. Coverage of proceedings under these Practice Directions is strictly prohibited unless ordered by the Court. 2. A person who contravenes an order or direction made under these Practice Directions shall be deemed to have committed an offense contrary to section 34(5) of the (Prevention) Terrorism Act 2011 (as amended).
According to the Chief Information Officer of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Catherine Christopher, the “practical directions are intended to provide measures which will ensure the safety and security of the parties; law enforcement and judiciary personnel; as well as members of the general public; while ensuring a speedy and fair trial for those suspected of having committed acts of terrorism.