From Godwin Tsa, Abuja and Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri
Abuja division of the Federal High Court has fixed April 8 for ruling on a preliminary objection filed by the detained leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, challenging the validity of a 15-count amended charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
Justice Binta Nyako fixed the date after lead defence counsel to Kanu, Mike Ozekhome, and the prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, had adopted arguments for and against the defendant’s preliminary objection.
Ozekhome specifically pleaded with the court to acquit and dismiss all the charges filed against Kanu by the Federal Government.
At a resumed trial, yesterday, Ozekhome argued that the 15-count amended charge was defective and baseless.
Ozekhome informed the court that his application seeks the quashing, striking out and dismissing of the 15-count amended charge against Kanu for being incompetent and denying the court of jurisdiction to entertain charge.
The application, with 34 grounds, and supported by a 36-paragraph affidavit, Ozekhome said, also seeks for an order acquitting and discharging Kanu for want of jurisdiction and defective, baseless and incompetent charges.
Ozekhome adopted his application and asked court to quash, strike out and dismiss the entire charges.
He asked the court to look at the entire grounds and affidavit, from paragraph 5 to 36, of notice of preliminary objection.
“The defendant was unlawfully brought to Nigeria against his will and in flagrant violation of international protocol on extradition,” he said.
However, the prosecution counsel has asked the court to discountenance Kanu’s objection, and proceed to order him to enter defence.
“We wish to state emphatically and particularly in paragraphs 7, 8, 9, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 of the affidavit in support of the motion as going into the substance of the case yet to be heard,” Labaran said.
Also, at yesterday’s trail, Ozekhome told Justice Nyako that his client, who is currently in custody of the Department of State Service (DSS), may go blind if nothing is done to restore his sight.
He decried that his client’s eyeglasses was confiscated in 2015, when he was initially arrested by DSS operatives, following his return to Nigeria from the United Kingdom.
He equally told the court that a new eyeglasses that Kanu bought was also seized from him during his extraordinary rendition from Kenya.
Besides, Ozekhome bemoaned that despite an express order of the court, the DSS declined to allow the IPOB leader to have a change of clothing.
However, DSS director of Legal told the court that family members of Kanu brought a cloth with a Lion’s heart, which “offends our standard operating procedures.”
The DSS was responding to the court’s question on why Kanu still wore his white Fendi designer cloth to court.
Ozekhome had complained that despite the court’s order, the DSS had refused Kanu to change cloths.
However, Justice Nyako asked the defendant; “Mr Kanu, what type of cloth do you want to wear?
“I want to wear the clothes of my people, ‘Isi Agu’,” Kanu replied.
Responding swiftly, the judge said ‘that kind of cloth cannot be worn in my court.”
Meanwhile, despite the directive from IPOB, most residents of Imo State observed a sit-at-home in solidarity with Kanu who appeared in court yesterday.
Daily Sun went round the state and observed that most markets, schools, banks,filling stations and major business premises were shut down.
The ever-busy Douglas Road in Owerri, the state capital, was a shadow of itself as it virtually became an empty street for football games. Most of the commercial vehicles plying different routes also stayed away from the roads except very few ones that raised their fares.
Some of the students, who spoke to Daily Sun, said they had earlier received information from their teachers on Tuesday not to come to school yesterday.