Again, Security Operatives Bar Journalists from Kanu’s Treason Trial as Case is Adjourned To February 10

For the second day running journalists were shut out of the trial of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and three others, who are facing treason charges at a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday.
Operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps manning the gate refused on entreaties to allow journalists in to do their job fell on deaf ears.
Later, security operatives asked that all family members and relatives of the defendants in the matter queue up before they can be allowed into the court premises.
A few journalists were later allowed inside while majority of the reporters were prevented from covering the proceedings in the court.
The operatives told the other reporters that they would await further instructions before allowing the journalists into the court.
At Thursday’s proceedings, the defendants queried the competence of the charge, saying there was nothing in the proof of evidence before the court to support treason allegation against them.
They argued that FG failed to establish a prima-facie case against them to warrant their trial.
Kanu and other co-defendants in court in a seven-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Ahmed Sadiya, the defendants, said there was “nothing contained in the proof of evidence to show that IPOB, people merely exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to self determination, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, is an unlawful society/organisation”.
Kanu said the only evidence the prosecution attached in support of treason allegation against him was an extra judicial statement he made to the Department of a state Service, statement made by the prosecution witnesses, and highlight of alleged Radio Biafra broadcasts.
He told the court that Radio Biafra was duly registered and operated under the United Kingdom Laws. The IPOB leader is facing trial alongside Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi. All the defendants, through their respective lawyers, urged the court to not only quash charges, but to also discharge and acquit them.
However, government lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, in his response, asked the court to dismiss the defendants’ objections which he said lacked substance.
Labaran urged the court to in-line with the provision of section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, refuse the applications and okay witnesses to commence their evidence-in-chief against the defendants.
“My lord I listened carefully to adumbrations of the 1st defendant’s counsel and I ask myself, if he has this kind of defence, why then is he afraid of trial”, Labaran added.
Specifically, the defendants have applied for a stay of further proceeding on the matter to enable the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal to hear and determine appeal they have lodged against their trial.
The defendants went before the appellate court to challenge the December 1, 2016, ruling of the trial court that denied them bail.
They are equally challenging decision of the trial Judge to conduct secret trial on the matter.
Counsel to the 4th defendant, Maxwell Opera, also filed a motion asking the court to protect his life.
Okpara alleged that security operatives at Kuje prison where the ‎defendants were remanded, have been collecting his personal details.
“My lord they have been gathering my details. Whenever I visit my client they will force me to fill a form and supply them with my personal information, including my village and home address.
“I can only appear before this court if I am alive”, Okpara added.
Trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako fixed February 10 to determine whether to quash charges against the defendants or not.
The defendants equally alleged plot by Federal Government to import foreigners to testify against them. FG had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, alleged that the quartet conspired to commit treasonable felony contrary to and punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, CAP. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014. Federal Government alleged that they committed the offence along with others now at large, on diverse dates in 2014 and 2015, in Nigeria, London and United Kingdom.
It told the court that the defendant conspired among themselves to broadcast on Radio Biafra which is monitored in Enugu and its environs, preparations they were making for states in the South-South zones and other communities in Kogi and Benue states, to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a view to constituting same into a Republic Kanu was identified as the arrow-head behind the “hate broadcasts”, it fingered Onwudiwe as the National Coordinator of the IPOB movement.
Kanu who was hitherto the Director of Radio Biafra and Television, ‎has been in detention since October 14, 2015, when he was arrested by security operatives upon his arrival to Nigeria from his base in the United Kingdom.

Author: News Editor

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