The founder of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Ralph Uwazuruike yesterday described Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), as a man he rehabilitated in London. Uwazuruike described the IPOB leader who is on trial for treason as “a nobody”, who he the Director of the Radio Biafra London, which, according to him, he established.
The MASSOB leader denied that he is one of the witnesses lined up by the Federal Government to testify against Kanu and added: “Kanu was homeless when I met him in London, I gave him the first money to rent an apartment after he was thrown out by the Ghanaian woman he was living with”.
“The struggle continues to be alive as long as I agree. Even if Nnamdi Kanu dies today, the struggle continues. I cannot travel to Abuja to give evidence against Kanu masked, if I want to do that, I will testify against him in an open Court but I can’t do that, what do I stand to gain?”
Uwazuruike told reporters at his headquarters in Owerri, the Imo state capital, that the allegation by IPOB members that he would testify against Kanu is “idiotic, stupid and laughable”, adding that, “the modern Biafra is my product, I started it in 1999 and since that time, I have been on with the struggle. Our late leader, Odimegwu Ojukwu gave me the franchise and I am the leader of the Biafran struggle today any other person involved in the struggle is working on my behalf”.
He added: “When I founded MASSOB in 1999 and started the struggle for Biafra, no Igbo man could summon the courage to mention Biafra, it was then considered as a taboo. Our people were cowards and could not mention Biafra until I started. When I started, nobody gave me a chance. I were through the hurdles alone. So, Nnamdi Kanu is not the first Igbo to be tried for treason, I also stood before the same Judge handling his case for the same charge of treason, so he should face his trial like a freedom fighter and if need be die for the cause”.
A statement by IPOB signed by its Media and Publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, alleged that Uwazuruike and “some unscrupulous elements in Biafra land are working with the Nigerian government and the DSS to hide under the screen to testify against Nnamdi Kanu”.
The statement explained that the “IPOB intelligence unit across the country uncovered plans and names of those to be used by the Federal Government to testify against our leader Nnamdi Kanu.
“The Buhari government promised to allocate oil wells to Ralph Uwazuruike and his associates in crime against the leader of IPOB and Biafrans worldwide.
“To buttress our points, Raphael Uwazuruike and co were in contact with the DSS headquarters in Owerri and Abuja to perfect this heinous crime against humanity but right now they are in Abuja to complement the whole arrangements to testify against the People of Biafra and our leader”.
The Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday began the trial of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu and three others. The trial will be partially in secret.Those being tried with Kanu are: Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi. They face treasonable felony and terrorism charges.
Yesterday, they were shielded from the public in the courtroom. Justice Binta Nyako had on December 13, 2016, ruled that the identity of witnesses in the matter would be protected but at yesterday’s sitting, the judge and parties were all shielded from public view.
There was also a heavy presence of security personnel within and around the court premises.
This made it difficult for people, including reporters and relatives of the defendants to enter the court.
The defence team, however, insisted that each of the defendants was entitled to have four relatives in court during proceedings.
This led to a short adjournment to enable security operatives allow the defendants’ relatives into the courtroom.
On resumption of proceedings, the defence counsel informed the court of its pending applications seeking to quash the charges against the four defendants.
Counsel to Kanu, Mr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, also informed the court of another application challenging the competence of the charge against the defendants.
Ejiofor told the court that the proof of evidence did not support the charges against his client to warrant his continual detention.
“The charge does not warrant his detention because there is no case against him,” he said.
Ejiofor also told the court that the Department of State Services (DSS) were frustrating the efforts of counsel in gaining access to the defendants.
He also alleged that relatives of the defendants were being continuously harassed and arrested each time they visited them in prison.
“They (DSS) are clamping down on the innocent citizens. If anything should happen to me or my family, the DSS should be held responsible,” Ejiofor said.
Nyako cautioned operatives of the DSS against sensationalising the case, saying that there was nothing special about the four defendants.
According to her, this is a simple criminal case so I do not understand all the “gra-gra” around it which I see from my CCT camera.
She also said the defendants should be unhand-cuffed as soon as they arrived the court premises as the defence team had complained that they were brought into court in handcuffs.
“State operatives should threat the case like any other case. You cannot break the constitution and still expect to be guided by the constitution,” Nyako said.
She asked the defence team to file a formal complaint of all the allegations they made and serve the court.
The judge also asked them to quickly serve the court copies of their applications to allow expeditious hearing.
She said that ruling on the applications would determine whether the case would be terminated or continued.
Nyako adjourned the matter till Jan. 12 to hear the application challenging the competence of the charge as well as that seeking to quash the case.