Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday adjourned the trial of the detained leader of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to January 19, 2022.
The adjournment came after a team of Kanu’s lawyers staged a walk-out over the refusal of operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) to allow some of them to gain access into the courtroom.
Kanu is facing a seven-count amended treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
The Federal Government had in the amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, which was signed by a team of government lawyers led by the Director, Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mr M. B. Abubakar, alleged that Kanu had in furtherance of an act of terrorism, issued a deadly threat that anyone that flouted his sit-at-home order should write his or her will.
The charge alleged that as a result of Kanu’s directive, banks, schools, markets, shopping malls, fuel stations were not opened for businesses, with vehicular movements grounded in the South East region of the country.
It said the action amounted to an offence contrary to and punishable under 1(2) (b) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
The charges alleged that Kanu had “on or about the 28th April 2015 in London, the United Kingdom did in a broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, Enugu state and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, referred to Major General Muhammadu Buhari, GCON, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot and an embodiment of evil, knowing same to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
He was alleged to have committed treasonable felony, an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria
He was alleged to have between 2018 and 2021, through Radio Biafra, professed to be a member of IPOB, a proscribed organization in Nigeria, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16 of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
In count five of the charge, FG alleged that Kanu had on April 22, 2021, in London, United Kingdom, on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other parts of Nigeria, did an act
He had pleaded not guilty to seven charges at his last appearance in court on October 21.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Kanu, who was brought into the courtroom around 9:52 am, had shortly after his case was called up, bemoaned the refusal of security agents to allow some members of his legal team, especially his lawyer from the United State of America, Bruce Fein, to enter the courtroom.
He told the court that Mr Fein, who he said was handling a case for him in the US, was around to witness his trial.
“I have an ongoing case in the US. I have not been allowed to see him. He is here to see me and to observe the proceedings. He has been to the DSS to see me, but they denied him access to me,” Kanu stated from the dock.
Asked by the judge if he was ready to conduct the proceedings himself, in the absence of his lawyers, Kanu replied in the negative.
Meanwhile, counsel to FG, Mr M. D. Abubakar, who is the Director of Public Prosecution, urged the court to proceed with the trial in the absence of Kanu’s lawyers.
Abubakar told the court that ordinarily the matter was fixed for hearing of an application that was filed by the defendant.
He argued that since Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who was initially inside the courtroom, walked out with his team shortly before the arrival of the judge, his pending application should be deemed abandoned.
In a short ruling, though Justice Nyako expressed his displeasure over the conduct of Kanu’s lawyers, she declined to dismiss the pending application and rather adjourned the case till January 19 and 20, 2022, for trial.