Justice John Tsoho, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, has issued a new practise directive for the hearing of terrorist matters before the Court.
The court is now hearing the cases of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), bureau de change operators charged with terrorist financing, and Boko Haram suspects.
The new practise directive, according to Justice Tsoho, was issued in the exercise of his constitutional responsibilities as outlined in Section 254 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The court stated that media coverage of hearings is completely barred under the new system, “except as may be instructed by the court.”
“Any person who disobeys an order or direction issued under these practise instructions is presumed to have committed an offence under section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended),” according to the directive.
“Only the judges, other essential court officials, and security agencies participating in the particular case, as well as their cars, should have access to the court premises,” it continues.
According to him, any proceedings that the court considers appropriate to guarantee the safety and or preserve the identity of the victim or witness may be held at any location specified by the chief judge, with the Code of Conduct Tribunal serving as the temporary venue.
“In any record or report of the proceedings, the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and identities of the victims of such offences or witnesses in the proceedings should not be divulged, and it shall be sufficient to designate the names of the victims or witnesses with a combination of alphabets.”
Other procedures specified by the court include allowing video evidence, allowing witnesses to be screened or disguised, receiving written depositions from expert witnesses, and directing that none of the court’s proceedings be broadcast in any way.
Others include excluding anyone other than the parties and their legal representatives from the proceedings; making an order regarding any electronic devices that may be used during the proceedings; and making an order regarding any other measure that the court deems appropriate in the circumstances.