From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has engaged foremost constitutional lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, to lead his defence team in the fresh terrorism charges slammed against him by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, proceedings in the trial have been adjourned to Wednesday by Justice Binta Nyako.
In his new brief, Ozekhome was at the court in company with Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who had earlier been leading Kanu’s legal team.
Ejiofor confirmed to newsmen that the change of leadership was to effectively tackle the challenge of the Federal Government.
Ozekhome told newsmen that his decision to take over Kanu’s defence was based on the fact that he was facing an incompetent charge.
“Right to self-determination is inalienable. It is guaranteed under both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the African Charter on Peoples’ Rights. I am here today because I believe that the charge against the defendant is baseless,” he said.
Meanwhile, the arraignment of the pro-Biafra agitator has been stalled following his objection to the fresh charges.
Kanu, who appeared before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Monday, accused the Federal Government of ambushing him with the new charges.
He accordingly asked the court to allow him time to study the new charges before his plea could be taken.
He was expected to take a fresh plea to an amended 15-count treasonable felony and terrorism charge preferred against him.
The adjournment followed Kanu’s complaint that the Federal Government failed to promptly serve him the fresh 15-count amended charge it brought before the court.
Kanu, through his team of lawyers, led by Ozekhome, further accused government of denying him the necessary facility to defend the charge against him.
Ozekhome told the court that the amended charge was served on them barely 24 hours to the scheduled hearing.
“With due respect, that is not justice. It is ambushing. I know that the Administration if Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) allows them to amend, but this is the 6th amendment they are making, and each time they do it, they serve us a day to the hearing, just to frustrate the trial,” Ozekhome added.
On his part, the prosecution team, led by Mr. Mohammed Labaran from the Federal Ministry of Justice, said it was not opposed to the court granting a short adjournment to enable the defence lawyers to study the charge.
Before adjourning the case till Wednesday, Justice Nyako ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to allow Kanu have a change of clothes.
“I don’t want to see him in this cloth again. This one is almost off-white. Also make sure that you allow him to exercise,” Justice Nyako added.
In the amended charge signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, M.B. Abubakar, dated January 14, the IPOB leader, who hitherto faced a seven-count charge, was accused of attempting to use his broadcasts to “destabilize the fundamental political and economic structures of Nigeria.”
He was further accused of inciting the public “to stage a violent revolution in furtherance of an act of terrorism against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria.”