By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, yesterday, reserved judgment on the appeal lodged before it by the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu and two other pro-Biafra agitators, David Nwawusi and Benjamin Madubugwu, had gone before the appellate court to challenge what they termed “strange procedure” adopted in their trial before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The trio, who are answering to a six-count treason charge the Federal Government preferred against them, in their consolidated appeal, alleged bias against trial Justice John Tsoho who not only declined to grant them bail, but also permitted the prosecution to shield the identity of eight witnesses billed to testify in the matter.
Justice Tsoho had equally rejected application praying him to discharge and acquit the three defendants in line with Section 351(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Meanwhile, a three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, yesterday, adjourned to deliver judgment on the appeal after both counsel to the appellants, Chief Chuks Muoma (SAN), and the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri, adopted their briefs of argument.
While Muoma urged the court to not only allow the appeal, but to also release his clients on bail, the DPP contended that the appeal lacked merit and ought to be dismissed.
Basically, Kanu and his co-defendants argued before the appellate court that trial Justice Tsoho erred in law “when having refused the application for the witnesses of the prosecution to testify behind screens or masked” on February 19, then “suddenly varied the said order in the ruling delivered on March 7, on a mere oral application by the respondent.”
Kanu, who was hitherto the Director of Radio Biafra and Television, has been in detention since October 14, 2015, when he was arrested by security operatives on his arrival from his base in the United Kingdom.
The defendants were 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.
Government alleged that they were the ones managing the affairs of IPOB, which it described as “an unlawful society.”
Kanu was alleged to have illegally smuggled radio transmitters into Nigeria, which he used to disseminate “hate broadcasts,” encouraging the “secession of the Republic of Biafra”, from Nigeria.
The accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge on January 20, even as the court ordered their remand at Kuje Prison, Abuja.