IPOB Leader Nnamdi Kau and his wife Mrs. Uchechi Okwu Kanu

The wife of separatist movement leader Nnamdi Kanu is not surprised by the Nigerian High Court's decision to protect the identity of prosecution witnesses. Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) and director of UK-based Radio Biafra, is standing trial on 11 counts of treasonable felony.

Pro-Biafrans are calling for the independence of contested Biafran territories forcibly annexed to Nigeria during British colonisation.

The Federal High Court of Abuja ruled, on 13 December, that witnesses testifying against Kanu would be protected by screens and would be using separate entrances to enter the court, local media reported.

Kanu's defence team is appealing against the ruling, arguing that it goes against the principles of a fair trial.

"The ruling is not surprising, I knew that she [Justice Binta Nyako] was going to rule against us," Kanu's wife, Uchechi Okwu-Kanu, told IBTimes UK.

"Binta Nyako is not an unfair person, looking at her previous cases, but her husband has a case with the government. He was released, but her son is still in custody, so she would not jeopardise the lives of her husband and son for Nnamdi Kanu," she alleged.

Okwu-Kanu, who said she is not allowed to communicate with her husband, also alleged President Muhammadu Buhari is behind the trial.

"They don't have evidence against my husband, there is no case here, they have changed the charges several times," she said. "He has been accused in the public, they killed several Biafrans in the public, so why try him in secret? We will never allow this to happen, even if takes 20 years.

"How many Boko Haram members have they tried in secret? Nnmadi Kanu is a freedom fighter, not a terrorist. Buhari should re-think this and leave this case alone, if he believes in justice."

Kanu, who holds both British and a Nigerian passports, was arrested in Lagos on 14 October 2015. He is standing trial along with Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.

The Abuja High Court initially ruled in favour of granting bail to Kanu. However, in December 2015, Buhari said the Ipob leader would not be released amid fears he could jump bail and flee to the UK.

Okwu-Kanu expressed concern over her husband's "deteriorating" health due to the prolonged detention, "but also because he is not receiving treatment for diabetes, and his heart issues".

Kanu's lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, confirmed to IBTimes UK the defence is appealing against the ruling.

"He was accused in the open. The trial must be conducted in the open," he said. " We are appealing against any form of trial that would shield the public from having access to evidence against our client. We want a fair trial for our client. Its it is a right enshrined in our constitution."

The trial has been adjourned to 10 January 2017.

A spokesperson for Buhari did not reply to a request for comments.

Kanu was previously facing a six-count treason charge with Madubugwu and Nwawuisi, before the federal government amended the charges to include Onwudiwe.

Earlier this year, the judge presiding over Kanu's case stepped down. Justice Nyako is now the third judge to handle the high-profile trial.
Nigeria's position

A Biafran Republic was established in 1967 but re-annexed to Nigeria in 1970, following a bloody civil war that claimed millions of lives.

The Nigerian government has always maintained the country's unity was a priority and that although peaceful pro-Biafran protests were welcome, demanding the breakaway of the Biafran territories went against the constitution.

Earlier this year, rights group Amnesty International accused Nigerian security forces of killing around 150 people calling for the independence of Biafra.

The army denied the allegations, claiming it intervened to prevent "ethnic clashes" and accused Amnesty of trying to tarnish its image.

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