From Godwin Tsa, Abuja.
Detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu has engaged a human rights activist and foremost constitutional lawyer, Chief 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 has been adjourned to Wednesday by Justice Binta Nyako.
Regalling in his new brief, Ozekhome stormed the court in company of Ifeanyi Ejiofor who had earlier been leading Kanu’s the 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 said his decision to take over Kanu’s defence, was based on the fact that he is 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 added
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 charge.
He accordingly asked the court to allow him time to study the new charge before his plea could be taken.
He was expected to take a fresh plea to an amended 15-count treasonable felony and terrorism charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
The adjournment followed Kanu’s complain that the Federal Government failed to promptly serve him the fresh 15-count amended charge it brought before the court.
Kanu, through is team of lawyers led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, further accused FG of denying him the necessary facility to defend the charge against him.
Ozekhome, SAN, told the court that the amended charge was served on them, barely 24 hours to the scheduled hearing.
“My lord, the proposed amended charge was served on us yesterday evening. As I speak to you my lord, the Defendant who was just brought in, has not even seen the charge which he is being told to enter his plea.
“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 he was not opposed to the court granting a short adjournment to enable the defence lawyers to study the charge.
Meanwhile, before adjourning the case till Wednesday, trial Justice Binta Nyako, ordered the Department of State Services, DSS, to allow Kanu to have a change of cloth.
“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 that was signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, M. B. Abubakar, and 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”.
The Federal government also accused of illegally importing a Radio transmitter known as Tram 500L, concealed in a container of used household items which FG said the Defendant declared as used household items.
The prosecution alleged that Kanu had in furtherance of an act of terrorism, issued a deadly threat that anyone that flouted his sit-at-home order should write his or her will.
Federal governments alleged that as a result of Kanu’s directive, banks, schools, markets, shopping malls, fuel stations were not opened for businesses, with vehicular movements grounded in the South East region of the country.
It said the action amounted to an offence contrary to and punishable under 1(2) (b) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
The IPOB leader was said to have “on or about the 28th April, 2015 in London, United Kingdom did in a broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, Enugu state and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, referred to Major General Muhammadu Buhari, GCON, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot and an embodiment of evil, knowing same to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
He was alleged to have committed treasonable felony, an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria
He was alleged to had between 2018 and 2021, through Radio Biafra, professed to be a member of IPOB, a proscribed organization in Nigeria, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16 of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
FG equally alleged that Kanu had on April 22, 2021, in London, United Kingdom, on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other parts of Nigeria, did an act of terrorism “in that you incite the other members (followers) of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a proscribed organization in Nigeria, to look for security personnel, their family members through a Radio Biafra on 102.1FM monitored through the IPOB Community Radio, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 1 (2) (h) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, 2013.
Attached in support of the initial amended charge dated October 14, 2021, included a seven-paragraphed affidavit of completion of investigation deposed to by one Loveme Odubo, a prosecutor in the Federal Ministry of Justice.
FG equally lined up five witnesses to testify in the matter, among whom are officials of the DSS and one Ronald S. who was identified as the manager of a Hotel in Lagos.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up at the court premises and its environs, as all roads leading to the court have been effectively blocked by operatives of the Department of the State Service DSS to ward off possible threat to life and businesses by hoodlums.