The trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director General of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu has been stalled.
This is as the counsel to the defendants has appealed against the decision of the court to allow witnesses be shielded in a case of treasonable felony brought against Kanu by Department of State Security (DSS).
Last Monday, a Federal High Court, Abuja, had upheld the submission by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mohammed Diri to use screens to shield witnesses in the trial.
The DPP had informed the court that the witnesses billed to be presented by the prosecutor said they would not appear to testify against the defendants unless the are allowed to wear masks or their identities shielded from both lawyers and people observing the proceeding.
“My lord this is because they are already receiving threats from associates of the defendants that they will be dealt with”, he had told the court.
He said DSS operatives also billed to testify in the matter, made similar request on the basis that they are investigating terrorism cases and would not want their identities exposed.
Justice John Tsoho had earlier, on February 19, refused an application by the Federal Government which sought leave to mask the witnesses.
The application was vehemently opposed by counsel to the defendants who urged the court not to allow ‘masquerades’ to testify before it.
And the Judge had agreed with the defence counsel. But last Monday, after upholding the submission of DPP to allow witnesses to be shielded, Justice Tsoho said it did not amount to U-turn from his earlier order.
On resumption, Wednesday, defence counsel, Chuks Momah (SAN) informed the court that the defence has filed a Notice of Appeal at the Appeal Court in Abuja and a Motion for Stay of Proceedings against the decision of the High Court to shield witnesses.
The DPP requested for time to reply to the two applications.
The case was thus adjourned to April 4 for hearing.
Kanu and three others are standing trial for allegedly committing treasonable felony, an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Federal Government alleged that they were the ones managing the affairs of the IPOB which it described as ‘an unlawful society’.
Specifically, Kanu was alleged to have illegally smuggled radio transmitters into Nigeria, which he used to disseminate “hate broadcasts”, encouraging the “secession of the Republic of Biafra”, from Nigeria.