The Department of State Services (DSS) on Wednesday denied journalists access to the courtroom where the trial of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, is expected to resume today.
Also barred from the courtroom are Igbo traditional leaders, Maxwell Opara (one of Kanu’s lawyers), observers and activists.
However, Kanu’s other lawyers, including Ifeanyi Ejiofor and Aloy Ejimakor, were allowed inside the courtroom.
“We are working on instruction. We can’t let you people in,” one of the operatives told newsmen.
Officials of the court had after a meeting it held with leaders of the National Association of Judiciary Correspondents (NAJUC) on Tuesday, disclosed that Justice Nyako insisted on allowing only five journalists in the courtroom.
Sequel to their instruction, a five-man list, comprising journalists from the print, television, radio and online news outlets, was submitted to the court.
Kanu, who was re-arraigned for trial before Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, is facing a seven-count amended treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
He pleaded not guilty to seven charges at his last appearance in court on October 21.
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 is 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 is alleged to had 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.
Meanwhile, heavily armed security operatives from the DSS, Nigerian Police Force, and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have barricaded all routes leading to the court.