The legal team of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) said on Wednesday the Nigerian government must not fail to produce him for his trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday.
The State Security Service (SSS) in whose custody Mr Kanu has since been remanded failed to produce him for scheduled proceedings in July.
Mr Kanu is being tried on charges of treasonable felony regarding his separatist activities. The trial is scheduled to resume before Binta Nyako, the trial judge Wednesday.
The separatist, who was granted bail in April 2017, fled the country after the invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the military in September that year, a situation one of Mr Kanu’s lawyers, Alloy Ejimakor described as the “rule of self-preservation.”
Mr Nyako, subsequently revoked his bail for ditching his trial, and ordered his trial to be separated from the rest of the co-defendants’.
While the trial of the rest of the defendants has made some progress, Mr Kanu’s has been stalled since 2017.
On June 29, 2021, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, announced that Mr Kanu had been rearrested and brought back to Nigeria to continue facing his trial.
He said the IPOB leader was “intercepted” days earlier but did not give details.
Although there has been no official disclosure about where and how Mr Kanu was arrested, relatives and lawyers to the IPOB leader, have described how he was “kidnapped” in Kenya under controversial circumstances.
His legal team disclosed days ago that the charges against him had been amended to make the counts seven in number.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday in Abuja ahead of Mr Kanu’s re-arraignment on Thursday, a top member of his defence team, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, in company with other members of the team, said the federal government “must produce” their client in court.
“That tomorrow, being October 21, 2021, should be sacrosanct. Our client – Mazi Nnamdi Kanu must and shall be produced in court to face his trial,” Mr Ejiofor said.
He said despite the issuance of a fiat by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, John Tsoho, for Mr Kanu’s trial to be held during the court’s annual vacation, the office of the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, deliberately stayed away from court.
‘Journalists must be allowed to cover proceedings’
Appealing to security operatives to allow lawyers and journalists to attend the IPOB leader’s Thursday trial, Mr Ejiofor said, “The show of shame openly demonstrated by the overzealous security agents on July 26, 2021, should never repeat itself.”
At the last proceedings where journalists and lawyers were manhandled, Mr Kanu who is being held by State Security Service (SSS), was not brought to court, a development that was blamed on “logistical issues” by the prosecuting lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar.
Advising the IPOB leader’s supporters, Mr Ejiofor said “you all must remain civil in your conduct as you have always been” adding that not everyone would be able to access the court room”.
‘Seven-count smokescreen amended charge’
Recalling the manner of Mr Kanu’s arrest in Kenya and subsequent court appearance on June 29, 2021, Mr Ejiofor insisted that his client is being “persecuted.”
Last week, the Nigerian government slammed an amended seven-count charge against Mr Kanu.
A notice titled, Federal Republic of Nigeria Versus Nnamdi Kanu’ with suit number: FHC/ABJ/CR/383/15, has been served on Mr Ejiofor and the prosecuting lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, PREMIUM TIMS confirmed Wednesday.
A copy of the notice seen by our reporter stated that the case would be “transferred from the General Cause List to the hearing paper for Thursday, 21st October 2021at 9 o’clock forenoon and will come on to be on that day if the business of the court permits or otherwise on some adjustment day of which you will receive no further notice.”
“If either party desires to postpone the hearing, he must apply to the court as soon as possible for that purpose and if the application is based on any matter of fact, he must be prepared to give proof of those facts.
“The parties are warned that at the hearing, they are required to bring forward all the evidence by witnesses or by documents which each of them desires to rely on in support of his own case and in contradiction of that of his opponent.
“The proof will be required at the hearing and not on a subsequent day, and parties failing to bring their evidence forward at the proper time may find themselves absolutely precluded from adducing it at all, or at best only allowed to do so on payment of substantial costs to the other side, and on such other terms as the court deems fits to impose.
“Parties desirous to enforce the attendance of witnesses should apply at once to the court to issue one or more summonses for the attendance of the witnesses required,” the document added.
Other members of Mr Kanu’s legal team at Wednesday’s press briefing included, Alloy Ejimakor, Maxwell Okpara and Bruce Fein, IPOB lawyer in the United States.
‘Why IPOB sit-at-home order remains effective’
Mr Ejiofor explained that the regular Monday sit-at-order in the South-east was still being observed “because people are yet to see and believe that Nnamdi Kanu is still alive.”
He also lamented the alleged arrest and detention of over 20 indigenes of Ebonyi State who had travelled to the Federal High Court in Abuja to witness Mr Kanu’s trial on July 26.
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