A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday adjourned the trial of Chief Nnamdi Kanu indefinitely. Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB).
Mr. Kanu is being tried on charges of terrorism and treason before Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Ms Nyako dismissed eight of the terrorism charges brought against Mr Kanu by the federal government.
But the IPOB leader appealed against Ms Nyako’s conviction, as she sustained six of the charges.
In ruling on Mr. Kanu’s appeal, the Court of Appeal on October 13 dismissed the remaining six counts, ordering the government to immediately release the separatist leader.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that during the resumed hearing of Mr. Kanu’s trial on Monday, the State Security Service (SSS), the agency holding him, told the trial judge. The IPOB leader refused to appear before the court.
Also at the High Court on Monday, Mr. Kanu’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, gave a detailed report of the outcome of the IPOB leader’s appeals at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Mr. Ozekhome informed the judge that the appeal court had dismissed the six-count charge and the prosecution’s appeal against the judgment at the Supreme Court.
In his response, the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation (DPPF), Mohammed Abubakar, confirmed Mr. Ozekhome’s account of the appeal proceedings.
Meanwhile, two other cases involving Mr. Kanu were brought before the court. The cases were limited to a new enforcement of the position and fundamental rights of the IPOB leader.
As there was a deadline for appeals at the Supreme Court, Ms. Nyako adjourned the three cases indefinitely pending the Supreme Court’s decision.
Kanu’s lawyer calls for Malami’s intervention
Addressing journalists after Monday’s trial, Mr. Ozekhome appealed to the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to release Mr. Kanu.
Citing Article 147 of the Nigerian Constitution, Mr. Ozekhome said the AGF has the legal power to remove any office holder.
He called on Mr. Malami to pursue the appeal court’s ruling freeing Mr. Kanu from impeachment.
The defense lawyer said the seven new charges “amount to an abuse of the process of the court”, citing the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
Mr. Ozekhome said Mr. Kanu’s release would create peace in South-East Nigeria, which has seen intense violence and civil disobedience over the IPOB leader’s imprisonment.
Mr. Kanu has been detained in Abuja by the State Security Service (SSS) since he was forcibly repatriated from Kenya in June last year.
Earlier, the SSS told the Federal High Court in Abuja that Mr. Kanu refused to appear in court.
When Ms Nyako resumed proceedings on the case on Monday, the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Federation (DPPF), Mohammed Abubakar, informed the court that Mr Kanu was not in court.
Mr. Abubakar asked a lawyer to address the SSS to the court over the absence of Mr. Kanu.
The SSS lawyer, whose name was not readily available, said: “My Lord, the accused (Mr. Kanu) woke up this morning (Monday) and refused to come to court.”
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Mr. Kanu said he was earlier aware of Monday’s proceedings but did not want to be brought before the court.
Reacting to the development, Mike Ozekhome, Mr. Kanu’s lead lawyer, asked why the IPOB leader would not appear in court.
Mr. Ozekhome told the court that Mr. Kanu had always wanted to be in court during his trial.
“The defendant (Mr. Kanu) was always pleading that he wanted to be physically present in court, even at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. We are shocked that the same person refused to come to court,” Mr. Ozekhome said.
The IPOB leader’s refusal to appear in court may be a protest against the government’s disobedience to the October 13 decision by the Court of Appeal to set him free.
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