Nnamdi Kanu: Judge Bars Police, DSS, Others from Blocking, Making Arrests in Court Premises

The Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies have been barred from blocking access to the premises and court rooms of Abia State High Court or any other court when it is in session.

Handing down the order, Justice Benson Anya said that security agencies have no right to prevent people from having access to the court, while “there must not be any arrests in the premises and vicinity of any court, except as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction”.

He gave the order following the court proceedings on Friday in the case of HIN/FR/14/2021 Nnamdi Kanu Vs Federal Republic of Nigeria and seven others.

The leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is in the Abia State High Court seeking a leave to enforce his fundamental rights with the federal government, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice and DSS, among others, listed as defendants.

The police and other security agencies had formed the habit of restricting movements along Ikot Ekpene road, Umuahia and other adjoining roads as well as barring people from entering the court whenever Kanu’s case came up for hearing.

But Justice Anya faulted the excessive enforcement of security, saying that barricading and impeding access to court is an anomaly in a democratic setting and could only be effected by security agencies if “the head of the court so requests in writing”.

“It is hereby declared unlawful to restrict the citizens and the members of the public access to the courtroom and the court premises during the working hours of the court.

“It is also declared that the act of barricading the court, blocking roads leading to the court and impeding access to the court premises and the court rooms in a democratic society by any person under any guise is unconstitutional, illegal and abuse of the integrity and sanctity of the court of law,” he said.

The judge also frowned on the disruptive activities of security agencies during court proceedings, noting that “in administration of justice, only the person officials and policemen posted on official court duties are allowed within the court of law and it is so orded”.

According to him, “Legal practitioners, litigants and the general public must be allowed free access to the court without let or hinderance,” adding that security agencies should not portray the court of law as an autocratic institution.

“The judiciary is a democratic institution with a mandate to protect the rights of any person or persons who approach the court to ventilate their grievances. It is unlawful to militarise it or cause the court to perform its function under the force of arms,” Anya declared.

In addition, the court ordered that the federal government and all the parties concerned must protect the sanctity of the judiciary, the freedom and constitutional rights of the people.

The case was adjourned to December 10, 2021 for motion.

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