From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, slammed fresh terrorism charges against leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, barely 24 hours before the resumption of hearing by trial Justice Binta Nyako.
In the amended process it filed before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, the government increased the counts in the initial charge it preferred against Kanu.
Kanu, who has been in detention since his alleged abduction from Kenya and forceful return to Nigeria, faced seven treasonable felony charges, will now enter his fresh plea to 15 amended charges marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, and signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, M. B. Abubakar.
The the trial resumes today. At the last adjourned date last year, proceedings was stalled following a walk-out staged by Kanu’s legal team following the refusal of operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) to allow some of them gain access into the courtroom.
Justice Binta Nyako adjourned further trial to January 18, 19 and 20 respectively.
The Federal Government had filed an amended seven-count charge against Kanu shortly after he was re-arrested and brought back into the country in controversial circumstances.
The amended charge, filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, borders on treasonable felony and Kanu’s alleged involvement in acts of terrorism.
Kanu had bemoaned the refusal of security agents to allow some members of his legal team, especially his lawyer from the United State of America, Bruce Fein, to enter the courtroom.
The IPOB leader told the court that Fein, who he said was handling a case for him in the US, was around to witness his trial. “I have an ongoing case in the US. I have not been allowed to see him. He is here to see me and to observe the proceedings. He has been to the DSS to see me, but they denied him access to me.”
Asked by the judge, if he was ready to conduct the proceedings himself, in the absence of his lawyers, Kanu replied in the negative.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. M. D. Abubakar, who is the Director of Public Prosecution, had urged the court to proceed with the trial in the absence of Kanu’s lawyers.
Abubakar told the court that ordinarily, the matter was fixed for hearing of an application that was filed by the defendant. He argued that since Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who was initially inside the courtroom, walked out with his team shortly before the arrival of the judge, his pending application should be deemed abandoned.