Detained MASSOB members accuse judge of bias

It was a drama of sort at the resumed hearing of the case of treason against 11 members of the Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM), as the suspects openly accused the trail judge, Justice Dorothy Agishi, of bias.

They asked Agishi to disqualify herself from handling the matter in which they were charged for treason, after invading the premises of the Enugu Broadcasting Service (ESBS), in June last year, to allegedly overthrow the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The drama commenced shortly after Justice Agishi ordered for secret trial of remaining witnesses in the matter as prayed the court by the prosecution at the last adjourned date.

No sooner had the order been made than the eleven suspects angrily shouted openly at the judge, crying, “you are bias, you should disqualify yourself from this matter, because you have shown from the beginning that we are not entitled to freedom.”

Leader of the group, Ben Onwuka, who sought the attention of the court, accused Justice Agishi of bias, noting that all the rulings of the court, including the ruling on their bail application, showed that the Judge was “not ready to dispense justice.”

The prosecution had at the last adjourned date prayed the court to discontinue public trial of the suspects in order to protect its witnesses.

The motion was, however, opposed by the defense counsel, Olu Omotayo, who argued that secret trial of the suspects would lead to a miscarriage of justice.

In its ruling on the matter, on Wednesday, the court granted the prayers of the prosecution counsel, though it held that accredited members of the press would be allowed at the trial sessions.

Omotayo, who was also not satisfied with the ruling, announced his intention to withdraw from the matter. The court, in response, insisted that Omotayo file a written application announcing his intent.

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 our question is, 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; 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”, Omotayo stated.

Similarly, the National President of BZF, Comrade Onyia Cyril, described the court’s decision as a “further infringement on the fundamental rights of non-violent activists.”

Onyia added that “These freedom fighters have been in detention for exactly one year, over treason charges, even when they did nothing wrong, except that they are fighting for the liberation of Ndigbo.

“I call on our people across the world as well as all rights organisations to come to the rescue of these men, who are being

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