Tuesday 21 November 2017

Biafra: Court Adjourns Kanu’s Trial Till December 5 As Judges Embark On A 5-day Conference

By Chimerue Chukwuemeka

…Okpara speaks on IPOB proscription, military invasion, other contending issues

ABUJA— The trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, and four other defendants, was stalled on Monday, following the absence of the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

It was gathered that judges in Nigeria, are currently holding a 5-day national Conference which spans from Monday, 20th November till Friday, 24th November. As a result, the court clerk informed both parties that the judge would not be available to preside over the case.

Consequently, the matter was adjourned till 5th December for continued hearing and commencement of trial.

The business of yesterday’s court sitting was for individuals, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Tochukwu Uchendu and a Jewish High Priest, Immanuel-El Shalom Madu, standing as sureties to Kanu, to furnish the court with information relating to the whereabouts of the latter.

Although, in a separate application filed against the Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Lt. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Kanu’s lawyer, Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor had prayed the court to prevail on the Army Chief to produce his client following the unlawful invasion of his residence on 14th September.

Besides that, the third and fourth defendants, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, respectively, have pending applications asking the court to grant them bail on health grounds.

Recall that in the previous sitting on 17th October, the trial judge had given the sureties to the IPOB leader, the opportunity to either present him in court or explain reasons why the court should not order a bench warrant against the first defendant.

As a result, Justice Nyako declined application by one of the sureties, Senator Abaribe to recuse and/or discharge himself as surety, citing that his application to withdraw his suretiship was predicated on the fact that he has no information on the whereabouts of the IPOB leader since after the military invasion at the latter’s residence, adding that the army is in the best position to reveal Kanu’s whereabouts to the court.

“What stops the FG from declaring herdsmen terrorists?”—

Okpara addresses contending issues

Meanwhile, the defence counsel to the fourth defendant, David Nwawuisi, Barrister Maxwell Okpara has reacted to issues bothering on IPOB proscription and the invasion of the Nigerian military at Kanu’s residence of which applications are pending before the court for redress.

Speaking to our Correspondent on Monday, the lawyer stated that the court has taken their submissions as to why it should set aside the ex-parte order proscribing and designating IPOB as a terrorist organisation, adding that the motion filed by the Federal government on which the court relied upon to issue the order, was a mere misrepresentation of facts.

He also queried why the government will shy away from proscribing the Fulani herdsmen and tagging them as terrorists despite the fact that they have unleashed mayhem on innocent citizens and caused a breach of national security.

According to him, “The application we filed, asking the Court to set aside that motion declaring IPOB as a terrorist organization has been taken. We took the application on Monday and the court gave us 15th of January as reported, to deliver the ruling.

“I also want to inform you that through that application, we’ve been able to let the court realize a lot of things.

“The FG was represented in that sitting by the Solicitor-General(Dayo Akpata), and we were able to convince the court that the fact which made it declare IPOB a terrorist organization, was predicated on a misrepresentation of facts.

“The rule of law was breached, they did not follow due process. We also let the court know that if there’s any organization that is supposed to be declared as a terrorist organization, it’s the dreaded Fulani herdsmen whose activities, an international organization has declared the 4th most deadly terrorist organization in the world.

“Now, the question is, what stops the Federal government from declaring Fulani herdsmen as terrorists? These are people that have razed villages, wiped out the entire communities in Benue, Taraba, Enugu and Nassarawa States, other places. Why should they(FG) now leave them and declare innocent and harmless IPOB terrorist organisation?

“We let the court know that that particular action by the Federal government declaring IPOB ad terrorists, was done in bad fate. So, all these things were canvassed before the law court.”
He added that the application seeking to compel the military to produce Nnamdi Kanu was heard last week Thursday and that they were able to establish before the court, the reasons why the Army should produce him.

He said, “Nnamdi Kanu is on bail and they said he has violated his bail conditions. And they filed a motion asking the court to revoke his bail.

“We were waiting on the 17th(last court session) to hear that particular motion, only for them to come up on the 14th of September, 2017, with armoured cars, killing people, dogs, and everything that is a living being in Nnamdi Kanu’s house at Afaraukwu, Umuahia. Since then, up till now, we’ve not heard anything concerning Nnamdi Kanu.

“And in their counter-affidavit, they never denied that they did not go to Nnamdi Kanu’s house on 14th September, they also never denied that they killed some people there, rather, they were saying that Nnamdi Kanu is not in their possession. But the irony here is that if he’s not in their possession, who is with Nnamdi Kanu?

“Kanu is not hiding, he’s also not under arrest. Did they invite him and he refused to come? Did they ask the Police to have him arrested? Why couldn’t they wait until 17th, why should they go and invade his house with armoured cars, are we under war? Kanu has sureties. If there is an issue he has with the government, they could have asked the Sureties to produce him but they never did so.

“So, these are issues that came up and they also said that the ammunition that was impounded by the Customs, they tried to link it to Nnamdi Kanu and we laughed. You see when somebody wants to hang a dog, he just calls it a bad name but we also addressed those issues in court and the court gave us 13th of January for its ruling.”

He also stated that he is hopeful that the court may grant the bail applications of the third and fourth defendants based on health grounds, adding that the court had earlier b requests to allow them to have access to their private doctors who will also access their medical records.


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