Law News
Biafra secessionists accuse trial judge of bias

Members of the Biafra Zionist Federation, a pro-Biafra secessionist group, who are facing treason charges before an Enugu Federal High Court, on Wednesday accused the presiding judge of bias.

The secessionists, who are insisting on their innocence, asked the judge, Justice Dorothy Agishi, to withdraw herself from the trial.

They also expressed an intention to forward a petition to the Chief Judge of the FHC to report the judge’s alleged bias.

Shortly before the activists made the accusation, Justice Agishi had granted an application in which the prosecution requested a ‘secret trial’ of the 11 pro-Biafra activists.

At the last adjourned date, the prosecution had made an application asking the court to bar members of the public, apart from accredited members of the press, from the courtroom during proceedings in the case.

But the defendants, through their counsel, Olu Omotayo, opposed the application, arguing that a secret trial would infringe on their fundamental human rights.

However, at Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Agishi upheld the application, a development which infuriated the secessionists.

After obtaining the permission of the court to speak, the leader of the group, Benjamin Onwuka, a lawyer, accused the judge of bias, noting that all the rulings of the court had gone against the defendants, including the ruling on their bail application.

Onwuka said the judge was not ready to dispense justice.

Also expressing dissatisfaction with the ruling, the defence counsel, Omotayo, announced his intention to withdraw from the trial.

Justice Agishi, however, directed that he should file a written application stating his formal withdrawal from the matter.

Speaking to journalists after the court session, Omotayo described the ruling of the court as a miscarriage of justice.

“We cannot be party to secret trial of these people, the court said accredited members of the press would be allowed during the trial, but who will have the responsibility of accrediting them?

“So, you can see that the entire thing boils down to secret trial.

“We are going to comply with the ruling, so before the next adjourned date, we shall file a written application indicating our intention to withdraw from the matter.

“Before that time also, the accused persons will also write formally to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, praying him to transfer the matter to another judge,” he said.

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