Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja withdrew from the trial of pro-Biafra agitator, Nnamdi Kanu Monday.
He announced his decision to return the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta for the case to be reassigned to another judge.
Kanu and two of his associates – Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi were arraigned before the court earlier this year on a six-count charge of treasonable felony filed for the Federal Government by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
The case was assigned to Justice Tsoho after another judge of the court, Justice Ahmed Mohammed withdrew from it upon allegation by Kanu that the judge (Justice Mohammed) was incapable of ensure justice in his case.
Trial was expected to open in the case Monday after the Court of Appeal, Abuja rejected Kanu’s appeal against an earlier ruling by Justice Tsoho allowing an arrangement for the protection of prosecution’s witnesses.
Monday, Kanu’s lawyer, Chuks Muoma (SAN) drew the court’s attention his application for the judge to withdraw from the case, alleging that he was biased in the way he was handling the case.
Muoma said his client has also petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the issue. He contended that the best option was for the judge to suspend proceedings in the case pending the NJC’s decision on his client’s petition.
The defence lawyer told the court that the NJC has acknowledged receipt of the petition and has commenced investigation.
“We are only asking the court to hands off the case. My client has lost confidence in this court. Following the development, all we are asking this court to do is to hands off this case pending the outcome of the NJC Investigation.
“It would not be proper for the court to continue with this matter when investigation is ongoing. So, in the interest of justice, we are asking the court to hands off the case. I would urge the court to transfer the matter. I will suggest that it be sent back to the CJ.”
The lawyer accused the judge of acting in line with the suggestion of President Muhammadu Buhari that Kanu was not going to be released under any circumstance.
Ruling, Justice Tsoho said he has no personal interest in the case. He elected to return the case file to the court’s Chief Judge.
The judge frowned at the attitude of the defence lawyer. He noted that Muoma he acted un-professionally through his utterances. He said it was not bothered by the defence’s decision.
The judge said since the defence has expressed lack of confidence in the way the court has handled the case, “it is only reasonable for the court to disqualify itself from further hearing the matter.
“Accordingly, this case is hereby forwarded to the Chief Judge for further re-assignment”, Justice Tsoho said.