- No evidence prove IPOB’s society unlawful – Justice Binta
- Strucked out charges unsupported by proof
- Court adjourns, trial begins till March 20 and 21
The Judge hearing the trial of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) at the Federal High Court Abuja, Justice Binta Nyako have struck out five out of 11 charges bothering on criminality levelled against Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
The court presided over by Justice Nyako maintained that the five struck-out charges were unsupported by proof of evidence against the defendants.
Nonetheless, Justice Binta sustained other charges levelled against Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader and three other pro-Biafra agitators – Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
The sustained charges centers on treasonable felony, publication of defamatory matter, conspiracy and Kanu’s alleged importation of goods contrary and punishable under section 47(2) (a) of the Customs and Exercise Management Act, Cap C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
While giving her ruling, Justice Binta said there was no evidence presented before the court to prove that the IPOB was an unlawful society.
The Federal Government claimed in three of the remaining charges that Nnamdi Kanu in his Radio Biafra broadcast in London during April 28 2015, referred to President Muhammadu Buhari as “a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot, and an embodiment of evil.”
After hearing both counsel for prosecutor and defendants adjourned to March 20 and 21 for commencement of major trial of the defendants.
It would be recalled that though his alleged October 18th arrest by the Nigeria’s secret police the Department of State Service, Nnamdi Kanu told his solicitors that he was on October 14, 2015 arrested by Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) in his hotel room at the Golden Tulip Essential Lagos Airstrip, Lagos.
The arrest of Nnamdi Kanu sparked major protects in over eight major states in the south-south region of the country especially in Anambra state.
On October 19, 2015, it was reported that Mr Kanu had been granted bail after a secret arraignment at Magistrate Court,Wuse 11. However, the bail seemed “controversial” and there were claims the DSS announced the bail only “to calm the angry people of Biafra”.
Upon meeting stringent bail terms and “upon the issuance of the Form 36, the court ordeal went to execute the order but came back unsuccessful. He was unable to produce the prisoner. The lawyer, Vincent Obetta, called the continued detention of the activist despite meeting his bail conditions “a clash between judiciary and executive” in a democratic Nigeria.
According to Mr Obetta, “I have not seen or heard any place where a court grants bail and the person is not released. Under UN and Africa charter, it is enshrined that once bail is granted, you release the person upon meeting the bail conditions. We are sliding to days of Decree 2 and 4 of 1984. This is pure Dictatorship.”
CHARGES AND TRIAL
Kanu was finally arraigned on November 23, 2015 in an Abuja Magistrate Court for the first time for charges of “criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation by Nigeria’s the DSS. They charges violate “Section 97, 97B and 397” of Nigeria’s penal code. Chief Magistrate .S. Usman had at the last adjourned date, berated the DSS over its failure to produce Kanu in court on two consecutive times the matter came up before the court.
Even as pro IPOB supporters continue to protest the continued detention of Kanu without trial, Kanu, through his counsel filed an application asking the federal authorities to transfer him from the custody of the DSS to prison. His lawyer, Obetta, insisted that transferring his client to prison would enable him have easy access to his legal team.
Whilst in court, the DSS requested the Wuse Zone 2 Senior Magistrates’ Court, to discontinue the trial of Nnamdi Kanu under section 108(1) of administration of criminal justice act 2015.
Mr Idakwo further said the DSS had obtained an order from the Federal High Court, Abuja, dated November 10, to detain the accused in its custody for 90 days.
However, Kanu’s lawyer, Mr Obetta objected the continued detention of his client. Obetta, prayed the court not to discontinue the case because the prosecution did not present any information from the Attorney-General of Nigeria Federation who had the authority to approve such.
Obetta also told the court that “the DSS violated the order of the court which granted bail that was perfected but not granted, adding that the accused had been in DSS custody since he was arrested.”
The court’s magistrate, Mr Usman Shuaibu, after listening to both counsels, adjourned the matter until December 1, 2015 for ruling.