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Tuesday 18 January 2022

Kanu's Trial: Court adjourns case on account of amended charges

Chikwas Onu Ikpe | The Biafra Times

January 18, 2022

ABUJA — Trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu has been adjourned until Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

On October 21, 2021, Kanu was accused by the Nigerian government, of committing treasonable felony, and other offences related to "terrorism," in a seven-count charge. But, in a couple of hours to the court date, today, the prosecution leveled the charges to fifteen.

The amended charge, case no. FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015 was signed by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), M. B. Abubakar; S. M Labaran, Assistant Chief State Counsel, on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

Nonetheless, with the new charges against him, he [Kanu] has to be re-arraigned on the fresh charges, then he would take a plea after the charges have been read to him before the trial can commence on the 15 amended charges leveled against him; following a fresh bail application.

The matter was called up today, by the presiding Justice Binta Nyako, for the defendant to take a plea.

Conversely, the defence team headed by Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), protested that there was no time to have discussed the amended charges with his client; which he said was filed "way too late".

Ozekhome further cited that "the Department of State Security Services (DSS) has defiantly disobeyed the orders of the court by disallowing my client to change of clothing". He added: "Nnamdi Kanu is not well fed; his visiting room (meant for us to interact with him during our visits) is bugged, which breaches his fundamental human rights.

Justice Nyako held that further time be given to the defendant. She also ordered the DSS officials to ensure the defendant has a change of clothing, subsequently.

The court adjourned until tomorrow [Wednesday] for hearing.

Speaking to journalists, IPOB lead counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, reacted to the fresh charges. He said the defence team objected to taking a plea; which he added would have been a "prerogative to abuse the process of the court". 

His words: "The matter came up last year December, but was rescheduled today, for the hearing of all the pending applications; viz, challenging the decision of the Court, application of transfer (of our client) to the prison custody, and an application for bail.

"But, (only) yesterday, we were ambushed with further amendment as we were served with fifteen-count"

"Although the prosecution has the liberty to amend a charge, it cannot exercise that prerogative to abuse the process of the court, or to supplant an objection that has been raised against an earlier amendment, which has not been decided on, or to overreach the defence, or to render nugatory or as a fait accompli, the decision of the court on a pending preliminary objection against an Amended Charge that is yet to be determined.

"On the face of that, we (the defence) cannot proceed. We objected to the fact there was no time for us to have discussed the charges and interacted on the new allegations contained therein. So the matter was adjourned tomorrow. 

"This, I must say; (that) the essence of filing the amendment yesterday, 24 hours before the date slated for the hearing of open applications, is nothing but to truncate the trial, because they know they have no case against him.

"As for the seven-count amended charges earlier filed against him, we have been able to demystify all the counts, in the application challenging, the decision of the court, and they had nowhere to run - only for them to file those amended fifteen-count charges, which is still worse than what we had.

"We tend to react to the amendment. Hopefully, by tomorrow, we will file a response to that."

The Biafra Times

Publisher: Chijindu Benjamin Ukah

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