The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja, to quash the treason charges filed against him and others as security agents in plain CLOTHES barred journalists from the Tuesday’s proceedings. Kanu, the National Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi are being prosecuted by the Federal Government on 11 counts bordering on felony.
The defendants were also accused of managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper IMPORTATION of goods.
Onwudiwe was specifically accused in one of the counts of engaging in an act preparatory to an act of terrorism.
All the counts were in connection with the accused persons’ alleged broadcasts on Radio Biafra and agitation for the secession from Nigeria, states in the South-East and South-South zones and other communities in Kogi and Benue states to constitute a Republic of Biafra.
However, in his application filed through his lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, on January 3, 2017, Kanu asked the court to quash six of the counts specifically preferred against him among the 11 counts.
He seeks “an order of the honourable court discharging and acquitting the first defendant/respondent of all the six counts preferred against him in the substantive charge, upon same being quashed.”
Ejiofor argued, “The six counts preferred against the first defendant/applicant as shown in counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the substantive charge, and the proof of evidence attached thereto has not disclosed any prima facie case against the first defendant/applicant, such as to warrant setting the substantive charge down for trial against the first defendant/applicant.”
A litigation secretary in Ejiofor’s law firm, Ahmed Sadiya, described the charges in a supporting affidavit as “smokescreen charges, basically concocted to ensure that the first defendant/applicant is perpetually held in custody.”
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako had earlier on December 13, 2016, ruled that trial would commence on Tuesday.
Ruling on an application by the Federal Government for the protection of prosecution witnesses, Justice Nyako had directed that journalists would be allowed to cover the proceedings but witnesses would be allowed to give evidence behind the screen.
But there was a heavy presence of security agents within and outside the court premises on Tuesday.
Journalists and relatives of the defendants were barred from entering the court.
But a protest by defence lawyers, to the effect that the accused persons were entitled to have four relatives to witness the proceedings, led to a SHORT break by the court to enable security operatives to admit into the courtroom the defendants’ relatives.
Justice Nyako adjourned till January 12 for further proceedings.